Sunday, September 6, 2009

Sunday Night in the Kitchen

I have two projects going on in the kitchen. It all began when I looked at my handful of beans in the garden and bell pepper tops I was cutting off and I started thinking about vegetable stock. Every time I roast any meat, I simmer the carcass and make stock. Turkey, Chicken, even ham. Ham stock is WONDERFUL in gumbo (it probably would have been good in the red beans and rice I made last week but I made pickled pork to go with it and that was probably enough).

I was looking around for ideas to put in the vegetable stock and saw the suggestion of squash peelings.
Well, it just so happens I made butternut squash soup just before my daughter left to go back to college and it was wonderful. There another squash in the garden and I've been thinking of roasting and pureeing then freezing it for the next time I want soup. Why not do that tonight and use the peelings for veggie stock?
The reason I have been thinking about vegetable stock is that many squash soup recipes call for chicken stock and that seems kind of odd and defeats the purpose if you are trying to make something vegetarian with the squash soup.

So here's what I did for my vegetable stock. But really you can put ANY vegetables in ...this is just what I had
I have a big cast iron pot. I put a little olive oil and sauteed one small yellow onion and a half a red onion that was in the fridge. I just like the taste of caramelized onions. You could skip this step.

From my garden, I picked a green pepper and cut out the bug eaten parts of a red bell in the garden. I have few red bells in the garden and I'm not wasting them on stock! But I did have some tops I saved thinking I would soup.
My green beans are done for the summer but there were about a dozen so I picked them and threw them in there as well.

The herbs are almost done. So I cut a handful of flat leaf Italian parsley, some basil - both purple and green - flowers and all - it was going to seed and a handful of chives. I did not put dill in because that's pretty distinctive flavor and just didn't want that.

I pulled up some carrots that tasted too woody to eat raw - threw them in along with the green tops. From the fridge, chopped up some celery-including the leafy top. The great thing about this is that you don't have to chop everything all nice, just in pieces. Don't forget the squash peelings. You cannot peel a butternut squash with a peeler and do it with a paring knife leaves a bit of flesh on so that works really well for stock. Nothing gets wasted. And don't forget several cloves of garlic. Oh, yea and a jalapeno that had gone red. I like a little heat.
I threw the peppers and celery in first after the onions were transparent and added about 1/4 cup white wine and let that reduce. Then threw everything else in the pot . Added about 6 cups of water. Some peppercorns, some kosher salt. Bring it to a boil, turn it down to low, cover and simmer a couple of hours. Strain all stuff out of it (and put in the compost pile). I pour my stock into quart size zip lock bags, label what it is and the date and freeze it. Next time you make mashed potatoes try boiling your potatoes in that! Oh come on PLEASE tell me you don't eat that crap out of the box.
And here's the recipe for the squash soup. It's a little time consuming because I roast the squash first but it's soo good that way. That's why it's a good idea to do that on a lazy Sunday night and freeze it. I got the basics for this recipe from the Food Network but I thought it had WAY too many herbs and spices. They call that "complex" flavors. I call that too much crap. But I loved the idea of adding balsamic vinegar to the roasting sauce.

The first step - Roasting the squash
Preheat oven to 400
1 cube butter (not margarine - butter) 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar 2 Tbl Molasses 3 Tbl brown sugar (or more if you are like me) 1/2 tsp sage 1/2 tsp cinnamon 1/4 tsp ginger 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper 1/2 cup white wine So first, you peel a butternut squash, remove the seeds and chop into 2-3 pieces. Also, peel and chop an apple as well. An apple really adds to the flavor Toss them in a bowl with a little salt and pepper. Next heat the butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter ceases to foam and has turned a light brown, pull the pan off the heat and immediately add the sage, sugar, vinegar (stand back so as not to get splattered), molasses and spices. Mix well and let simmer over medium-low heat for 1 to 2 minutes to meld the flavors.

Pour the vinegar mixture over the squash and toss well, then transfer to a heavy rimmed baking sheet or baking dish large enough to hold the squash and apples in a single layer. Place in the oven and roast, tossing at least once, until very tender and caramelized, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Set aside until cool enough to handle but still warm, so the liquids are runny. Then puree it in a blender with the white wine
Part two - making the soup
1 yellow onion, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped (not necessary but I always throw in bell peppers. Did you know they have more vitamin c than an orange?)
1/4 cup white wine
2 Cups vegetable or chicken stock
2 cups, more or less water to thin soup to your liking
1/2 cup heavy cream

Saute the onion and bell pepper in olive oil. When the onions are transparent, add the wine and cook a few minutes until it reduces. Add the stock and simmer a few minutes, then add squash and apple puree. Cook for a few minutes, adding water if it needs to be thinned. Then back to the blender and puree again. Then back in the pan, heat it up, add the cream.

If this is way too healthy for you, it tastes really good with crumbled up bacon. Enjoy.


  1. Oh, all so yummy. I love making soups, too - but haven't done so for a couple weeks.