20 October 2006

foodblog 2: butternut-lemongrass soup!

ok also last week, i purchased a butternut squash. now, i've done a lot of things with acorn squash, i guess because they're of a manageable size compared to butternut squashes. people say they're interchangeable in recipes, and that's mostly true, but they do each have their own taste, and i usually prefer butternut. anyway, i happened to find a smallish butternut and so i bought it on impulse. butternut squash makes one of the tastiest soups ever. before last night i'd had it two or three different ways, and all were good; the one i made last night was yet another distinct soup, and i thought it was pretty delicious. in the past i've had it spiced with nutmeg or sprinkled with pistachios, heavy on cream or heavy on butter or swirled with sour cream. i decided that since i already knew the basics of making squash soups -- twice before: one cost patrick a sliver of thumb skin, and the other got tossed out on account of an unpleasant amount of nutmeg -- i would try to make something a little different from all of these. the upside from the failed too-much-nutmeg experience was that i learned to properly roast a squash to get the best flavor from it; unfortunately, most recipes just say to boil the squash straight off -- which means you have to cut it up, and slicing through the tough raw skin is where you might injure yourself -- or (eek) to microwave it, 'nuff said. anyway, i roasted it in the oven til it came out smelling caramelized. the cool thing is that when it was raw, it smelled just like a melon. i suppose they're all in the same family, squashes and melons, but it was still surprising how light and fruity this
one was. so imagine that, then mellowed out by the deep warm smell of browning sugar.

anyway, i'm getting a little carried away describing my butternut squash when i want to get to bed. so imagine a light, nearly-fruity version of butternut squash that echoes the melon smell with a little bit of apple, but supports the autumny side of squash with a few robust vegetables (carrot, celery, onion, garlic) and chicken stock. on impulse i threw in some lemongrass to bridge those two sides, and after a little more thought grated in some ginger. is this sounding good to you? i promise, it was good.

after a long simmer, i blendered and salted it. i decided i wanted a smooth soup, so i ran it through a sieve. set it in shallow bowls. topped it with cracked pepper and green onions, just like for a black bean soup. then i decided to try something a little different. i wanted an extra starch for the meal, so i piled a few spoonfuls of soft, short-grained rice into each bowl (i had to be careful not to let the rice fall into the soup and drown, but it helped that it was a bit sticky). and then, instead of sour cream or heavy cream, i pulled out some coconut milk (the unsweetened kind). just a spoonful or two, directly on top of the rice. it was a subtle taste but really pulled the dish together, i think. i am happy i made up a recipe as i went along, found it really simple, didn't have any accidents or emergencies, and pulled off the balance i was hoping to get quite well.

took pictures. the light underneath the microwave was on, it turned out, and i think that's why there's that gleam on the soup. it certainly wasn't congealed like the reflections seem to suggest. anyway, here are two. yay.



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