Shane came home from poker the other night raving about Bill’s butternut squash soup, so we got the recipe and made it over the weekend. It was every bit as good as he said it would be – and the recipe is flexible enough to make lots of different delicious variations. Here’s what we did:
Butternut Squash Soup a la Bill Jusino
1 large butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 large onion, minced
1 large sweet apple, finely chopped
2 C chicken or vegetable broth or stock (optional – you can just use milk, half and half, or heavy cream if you want it crazy rich)
1/4 C whole milk (give or take, more if you want the soup creamier)
Butter or olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional spices to taste: cinnamon, ground nutmeg, finely ground cloves, curry powder, cayenne pepper
Preheat oven to 325F while you cube the squash. Roast squash, lightly salted, on a foil-lined baking sheet in a single layer until it’s really soft – 20-30 minutes. Wait about 15 minutes after starting the squash, then heat 1-2T butter or oil in a soup pot on medium-low heat. Saute minced onions with salt, pepper, and whatever else you feel like throwing in until onions are translucent. Add apple, and cook til soft. Add squash and smush around with the back of your spoon. Add the broth or stock and bring to a simmer. Puree the soup with an immersion blender (or a regular blender if you’re brave, but don’t look at me if you mess it up and blow soup all over your kitchen). Add the cream or milk to enrich, adjust seasoning to taste, and serve warm with some crusty bread or a fancy garnish of your choice.
I just seriously had the most productive 3 hours of my day. Between 6-9pm, I:
- Made (and then ate) almost from-scratch chicken noodle soup (almost = store-bought broth & noodles).
- Simmered last night’s store-bought chicken with some vegetables to make stock.
- Re-pickled the pickled beans.
- Made a batch of hardboiled eggs for SB.
- Made from-scratch tomato bisque to freeze (I’ll add the cream when I warm it up).
- Baked magical coconut oatmeal raisin cookies for Paola’s going-away party.
All that – and the dishes are done as well! I feel terribly accomplished.
ETA: I also made pesto. I forgot.
Pumpkin Protein Bread
adapted from Mollie Katzen’s Sunlight Cafe
1 C all-purpose flour
1 C soy protein powder (we’ve used cinnamon bun and chocolate powders, both with excellent results)
1 t salt
2 t baking powder
1/2 C sugar
2 C pumpkin
2 large eggs
2 T vanilla extract
3 T unsalted butter, melted (optional)
1 C chocolate chips (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly spray a loaf pan with nonstick spray. Stir together the flour, protein powder, salt, baking powder, and sugar until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chocolate chips (if using). In a separate bowl, combine the pumpkin, eggs, vanilla, and butter (if using) and stir until uniform. Add the pumpkin mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until thoroughly blended.
Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, and bake in the center of the oven for 45-50 minutes. Cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then cool on a rack for another 20 minutes. Bread should be golden – almost caramelized – on the outside, but rich, dense, and moist inside. With a little whipped cream, you can almost pretend you’re eating a big slice of pumpkin pie – except with protein!
I grew up in a very heavily Swedish town in Northern Illinois. I guess it’s more of a city, really. And I guess it’s probably only the side of town where I grew up – the northeast, but generally the side east of the river – that is or was heavily Swedish. I could be wrong about that, though.
I grew up in a heavily Swedish church in a heavily Swedish town, and the thing to do on Sundays after church was to go to Stockholm Inn for Swedish pancakes and lingonberries. It didn’t seem odd to have several Andersons, Ericksons (or Ericsons), Gustafsons, Johnsons, Olsons, or Petersons in any of my classes. I never thought anything of this until I moved away to places that were not overwhelmingly Swedish or – like where we are now – weren’t Swedish in the least bit.
None of this is the point of this post, however. For work today, I made my Swedish Apple pie from the Kitchen Table Cookbook. I’m not in the least bit Swedish, and I have no idea why the pie is Swedish, but it’s delicious, and tangentially related to another food that I have sentimental memories of, and there you have it.
Let’s just go ahead and mark this down as the summer when I fell absolutely in love with vegetables again. It’s not that I ever stopped liking you, vegetables. It’s just that this summer has been so good, vegetables, that you’ve won me over again. I’m like a new bride, giddy with excitement, swooning for love of whatever’s in the crisper, cut up and roasted with some olive oil and salt and pepper.
I know that all good things have to come to an end, and that eventually I’ll grow tired of your vitamin-filled goodness and we’ll drift apart, dear vegetables. Ours is a May-December romance in the truest sense. But you can rest assured that come the dark days of February, when I’m sustained only by the things that I’ve canned and the few items that farmers have managed to over-winter, I will be pining for you and longing for the dog days of summer, when we can be together again.
Things I haven’t had in way too long:
- sushi (although I’m still a wuss and can’t really do the fresh fish deal)
- Kopi’s tuna salad salad
- curry that didn’t come out of a microwaveable packet
- guacamole from Taco Loco
- Passover dinner with Hannah and Sarah
I realize I’m jeopardizing future dinner invitations by saying this, but I’m oddly fascinated by aspic right now.
OK, the above isn’t actually an aspic jelly – but it is a jello salad in a mold, which falls into the same category as far as I’m concerned. I spent a bunch of time last weekend reading my 1943 edition of the Joy of Cooking, which was full of such wonders. I don’t know if I’ll ever bring my aspic dream to fruition – but good lord, they’re weird, and I’m enjoying looking at pictures of them and imagining how anyone found them palatable.
It’s pretty rare that I miss anything about Rockford other than my family, but right now I could really go for a Mary’s Market sampler. I was there something approximating daily when I worked at Wonderland - grabbing lunch, making the coffee run for my coworkers, picking up bread or treats on my way home. It’s the first place I really learned to like coffee, and we all know how well that’s served me since.
I’ve spontaneously made really fantastic meals the last two nights out of things we just had lying around. Last night was chicken breasts stuffed with goat cheese, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and seasoned with kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, and a LOT of chives, then baked on parchment paper until awesome, along with a take-and-bake baguette, which is pretty much the best thing ever. Tonight, while waiting for SB to get back from the gym and my LEEP class to start, I poached chicken breasts in leftover spaghetti sauce, seasoned with fresh sage and thyme and enriched with more goat cheese, which we ate with the rest of the bread from last night. About 90% of evenings I just want to order a pizza (tonight included), so making easy but fantastic meals has been a nice change.
I’m currently reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, which I’m really enjoying. It’s less preachy than The Omnivore’s Dilemma, though still pretty self-righteous. The idea of living off the land and/or only eating local is incredibly appealing to me – on the other hand, I just sung the praises of take-and-bake bread from Trader Joe’s. Mainly this book has me craving consistently warm weather so that I can plant pots of things on our balcony (or perhaps in a community garden if we can get a share) and resume our weekend trips to the farmers’ market. Springtime can’t come soon enough.