Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

A week after Thanksgiving, I was growing weary of looking at the winter squashes that had been staring at me from the windowsill for over a month. I initially put them there to inspire me to make a clever Thanksgiving centerpiece, but instead, they became a constant reminder that I had never gotten around to decorating with them. Or cooking them. I was over squash.

The question was, do I cook them, freeze them, or put them in the compost where my chickens could happily devour them over the winter? That’s one of the nice things about having chickens, they are the ultimate assuagers of guilt. If you don’t get around to eating food, the chickens are ready to step in — and they give you eggs for the trouble.

In the end, I roasted a variety of squashes, scooped out the flesh, and froze it.

Recently, I had a marvelous lunch with a few girlfriends. Each of them ordered butternut squash soup. I took a taste. It was delicious. I decided I would make butternut squash soup with the frozen squash. I had a rich homemade Chicken Stock from Rotisserie Chicken Bones in the freezer to use for the broth.

Yield: 12 cups of a hearty soup. You could have more volume by thinning the soup with extra chicken broth.

Ingredients
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, roughly diced (3 cups or 1 pound)
4 cloves of garlic, peeled, smashed, and chopped
4 pounds (7 cups) roasted winter squash (see directions below)
2 quarts (8 cups) no salt added chicken broth.
Salt and pepper to taste

Mise en Place

To Roast Squash:
To make this soup, you will need to roast the winter squash first. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds and fibrous pulp. I used acorn, butternut and Seminole pumpkin squashes. As described in this post, microwave the butternut squash to make it easier to slice.
 

Use a silicone basting brush to swab the squash halves with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, garlic pepper, and“Trader Joe’s Everything But The Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend.

Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet in a 425º oven. Cook for one hour.

Let cool for another hour and remove the skin and any remaining stringy pulp. I packed and froze the cooked squash.
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To Make Soup:
I had never made squash soup before but started by doing what I always did when making soup, I sautéed onion and garlic in olive oil over medium-low heat until they became soft and translucent – about 15 minutes.

Next, I added the mushy roasted veggies. If you desire a hearty soup, as I did, there is no need to puree the squash first. If you are looking for a daintier soup, or one with a more uniform consistency, purée the squash.

Stir in the broth and bring the soup to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes. Season to taste before serving. I only needed to add one teaspoon of salt and no pepper because the roasted vegetables I used had already been well-seasoned.

Serve with a sprinkle of chopped parsley. You could add curry or ginger powder if you want to add more flavor, but I love the robust taste of roasted veggies.

My new seasonal windowsill.

Related Posts
Chicken Stock from Rotisserie Chicken Bones
Rotisserie Chicken Soup, Revisited
Sick Soup, Sometimes Known as Snow Day Soup
Aunt Bridget’s Chicken Soup with Little Meatballs
Lisa’s Award Winning Buffalo Chicken Chili
Kelly’s Duck Stew
Bruce’s Turkey and Sausage Gumbo
Mrs. Lombard’s Portuguese Kale Soup (aka Caldo Verde)
Pasta e Fagioli, aka Pasta and Bean Soup

Always check the website for the most current version of a recipe.

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© 2014-2017 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos and text may only be used with written consent.

Roasted Patty Pan Squash

Patty Pan, Scalloped, and Flying Saucer are all perfect names for this whimsical variety of summer squash known for its ornately scalloped edges and shades of color ranging from pale yellow, to variegated yellow and green, to dark green. The color of this particular variety, called “Flying Saucer,” is temperature dependent — it will turn green when temps become very hot in the summer.

Patty Pans are kin to other varieties of summer squash such as zucchini, yellow crooknecks, and “Cubes of Butter” all of which ripen between June and September.

Summer squashes are thin-skinned with tender interiors. They can be eaten raw with their peel intact. Compare that to mature winter squashes such as butternutacorn, spaghetti, and pumpkin, with their hard outer skins, firm interior flesh, and fibrous seeds. They need a little more attention when cooked, but man, are they good, too!!

   

How to Grow Patty Pans

I grew these patty pans with my other summer squashes in a 4 x 13 foot raised bed. I planted the seeds on April 3rd and started harvesting around June 10th. Here is how the bed looked on April 8th, (the day they germinated), May 10th, and on June 10th when I started harvesting. One plant will bear two to three successive harvests before dying off.

It is best to pick patty pans when they are less than 4 inches in diameter.

How to Cook Roasted Patty Pan Squash (and other varieties of summer squash)

For roasting most vegetables, I think Mary Kane’s (aka Mom’s) trinity of McCormick’s Garlic Pepper, fine sea salt, and extra-virgin olive oil is a surefire way to a successful dish.

My mother was a fantastic cook whose nightly dinners were legendary. A big tip was to keep dinner simple. Basically, she prepared a protein, a starch and a vegetable or two every night. There were no fancy sauces or ingredients for which she had to spend hours searching. Her daily ten-mile drive to Walkers Roadside Stand, along the bucolic Sakonnet River in Little Compton, R.I. was more of a peaceful escape than a trip to hunt down ingredients.

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She learned early on that roasting vegetables enhanced their natural goodness, and that includes sweetness. I, in turn, learned by cooking by her side most of my life.

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Ingredients

2 pounds Patty Pan squash
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
¾ teaspoon fine sea salt (or, to taste)
¾ teaspoon garlic pepper

Mise en Place

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400º.

Wash and dry veggies and cut off stems. Slice each squash into three segments.

Place slices in a bowl and toss with Mary Kane’s Trinity.

Arrange slices in a single layer in a large parchment-lined roasting pan.

Roast for 40-45 minutes. Flip over halfway if you want both sides browned. I don’t bother with this extra step.

I love the unique squashy taste and denseness of these Patty Pan slices.

Serve squash with:
Cooking Dinner in an Unfocused Way, or Ode to the Rice Cooker
Easy Roasted Salmon with Olive Oil and Garlic Pepperor
Lemony Grilled Chicken Breast
Very Berry Clafoutis or Ellen’s Most Moist Zucchini Bread for dessert

Always check the website for the most current version of a recipe.

© 2014-2017 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos and text may only be used with written consent.

Old-Fashioned Mashed Potatoes

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My grandson turned one this week, and in celebration, I wanted to make a birthday dinner full of foods he could eat by himself with his adorable little hands. I chose Judy’s Mom’s Meatloaf, Amazingly Delicious Sautéed Carrots, mashed potatoes and a funfetti cake.

He loved everything and entertained us all as he picked away at his food with focus and determination.

It has been easily five years since I last made a bowl of creamy, mashed potatoes. I’ve been roasting them for so long it hardly ever occurs to me to mash them anymore, but have I ever been missing out. They were good. The calorie count wasn’t too bad, either. I only used six tablespoons of butter and one-half cup of milk for three pounds of potatoes. I like to make mashed potatoes with a combination of Russets and Yukon Golds if I have both in the potato bin; Russets for their high starch content and Yukons for their great flavor.

When I looked at a photo of my dinner plate, its plainness brought back memories of my childhood dinners: starch, vegetable, protein. That threesome was a religion for my mother.

Ingredients

3 pounds potatoes (5-6 large), peeled and quartered
½ cup milk, whole or 2% reduced fat
6 tablespoons butter
Salt, to taste. I used ¾ teaspoon (plus the tablespoon that went into the potato water)
Pepper (optional)

Mise en Place

Instructions
Fill an 8-quart pot with water and one handful (1 tablespoon) of salt. Bring to a boil. You will want enough water to cover the potatoes by about an inch.

While waiting for the water to boil, peel and quarter the potatoes. Cut potatoes into uniform chunks, so that they will cook evenly.

When the water comes to a boil, add potatoes. Bring water back to a boil and set a timer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes of cooking, check for doneness by piercing a potato with a sharp knife. It should go in easily. If it doesn’t, add 5 more minutes of cooking time and test again. If you are not sure if they have cooked enough, just taste one. When finished cooking, drain potatoes in a colander and allow the steam to dry them. You want the potatoes to be hot and dry when you add the butter mixture.

  

Heat butter and milk in either a microwave or a saucepan until the butter is melted and the milk is hot, but not boiling.

Place potatoes in a bowl and mix for about 20 seconds on slow speed. Add the hot butter/milk mixture and ½ teaspoon of salt. Mix until potatoes reach the consistency you desire — lumpy or whipped.

“Salt to taste” Add more salt according to your taste preferences, realizing that the interior of the potatoes have already been salted while they were boiling and there is salt in the butter. To adjust salt: add salt in increments of ¼ teaspoon. For this batch, I only needed to add ¼ teaspoon more for a total of ¾ teaspoon.

Serve hot. They do not taste as delicious reheated. Better to store prepped, uncooked potatoes in a bowl of cold water until dinnertime and then cook, rather than make them earlier in the day.

Kitchen Tip: When you smell something bad or rotten, in the kitchen always check the potato bin first. That happened to me this week and sure enough, there was a rotting potato in my basket of homegrown new potatoes.

  

Related Posts
Judy’s Mom’s Meatloaf
Amazingly Delicious Sautéed Carrots

Always check the website for the most current version of a recipe. Thanks!

© 2014-2018 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos and text may only be used with written consent.

Peperonata!

Five years ago, I posted this picture on Facebook of peppers I had just harvested from my backyard garden.

Within minutes of posting it, I received a message from a Sicilian friend living in Germany, Francesco Strazzanti, with the following message, “Peperonata!”

Francesco is a fantastic cook; so when he talks, I listen. I had never heard of peperonata. When I Googled it and learned it was a stew made with sweet bell peppers (“peperoni” in Italian), onions, and tomatoes, I realized I knew exactly what peperonata was — I just never knew the dish had a name.

There are many ways to make this dish, just like there are many ways to make
sausage with peppers and onions,

marinara sauce,

or chicken cacciatore,

The core ingredients are all pretty much the same, a variation of vegetables typically grown in a summer Italian kitchen garden: tomatoes, peppers, onions, zucchini, eggplant, garlic, basil, and parsley. These are MY VEGGIES!  I garden just to watch these beauties grow and then to have a quiet kitchen in which to prepare them in delicious and creative ways. The bonus is the connection I feel to my mother and grandmothers when I make their recipes.

Peperonata! 

Peperonata is the kind of dish you could make a big batch of every week and have in the fridge to use as you plan meals.

You could serve it over pasta for dinner or as a side dish alongside grilled sausages or chicken.

You could serve it over a slice of crusty bread with melted mozzarella or goat cheese for lunch.

Or, you could serve it scrambled with eggs for breakfast. This last way was one of my favorite foods to eat when I was a teenager. My grandmother in Baltimore used to make it for me all the time. She scrambled the eggs in olive oil and stirred in the peperonata at the end. Yum.

Yield: 8 cups

Ingredients:

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¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, about 3 cups cleaned and sliced
3 pounds bell pepper, about 10 medium-sized, or 10 cups cleaned and sliced.
1 level tablespoon chopped garlic, about 4 or 5 cloves
2 pounds juicy, ripe, tasty, tomatoes, or 4 cups cleaned and rough-chopped.
1 teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 heaping tablespoon chopped fresh oregano, or the leaves from about 6-8 sprigs
¼ cup chopped fresh basil, or the leaves from two stems
1 heaping tablespoon chopped mint, or the leaves of one long stem
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice,  or about ½ lemon squeezed
1 heaping tablespoon plain Greek yogurt (optional – swirl in before serving if desired)

Mise en Place:

To prep the peppers: cut in half and scoop out the stem, seeds and white pith. Chop into slices or chunks. I leave the skin on. Note: red sweet peppers make for a pretty sauce if you have a choice when buying the peppers.

 

To prep the tomatoes: cut in half horizontally, use your index finger to scoop out the seeds. Remove the stem and core and cut into two-inch chunks. I leave the skin on because the heirloom tomatoes I use (called Cherokee Purples) are thin-skinned.

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To prep the onions: remove the papery skin and white core at the base. Slice into slivers.

Instructions:
Warm olive oil in a 6-quart pan. Add onions and sauté for 5 minutes on medium heat until translucent.

Add peppers and garlic and sauté for 10   minutes, covered, on medium-low heat until soft. Stir about every 5 minutes. Do not brown peppers.

Add tomatoes, salt, and pepper, cover and sauté for 5 minutes on medium-low, stirring occasionally. Stir in herbs. Cover, cut off heat and let sit for about an hour to finish cooking. Stir in the honey, lemon, and yogurt. Add more salt to taste. I like to add ¼ teaspoon at a time until that moment when the salt brings out the best in all the flavors. Francesco is the one who encouraged me to add the lemon, honey, mint, and yogurt. He was spot on. They boosted the depth of flavor wonderfully.

P.S. It gets better every day!

How about Italian cookies for dessert?

Sesame Seed

Lemon and Ricotta

Always check the website for the most current version of a recipe. Thanks!

© 2014-2017 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos and text may only be used with written consent.