Sunday, October 10, 2010

Simple Soup

I had good intentions of writing a new post singing the praises of my latest Mexican dish courtesy of Rick Bayless. Especially since the famous chef/teacher/restaurateur is actually here in Orlando today. Macy's at Mall of Millenia is hosting Rick at a demonstration and book signing featuring his newest book, Fiesta at Rick's. The past few weeks have been filled with fabulous Mexican meals prepared by following Rick's step by step instructions in Mexican Kitchen.

But yesterday got away from me — and today I was lured to a simple soup involving 3 major ingredients courtesy of Jack Bishop, executive editor of Cook's Illustrated. I had purposely picked up a butternut squash to give this simple soup a try.

Three main ingredients: squash, garlic and chipotles with the addition of salt and water, and presto, a luscious, smooth as silk taste teaser. The piquant chipotles are the perfect counterpoint to the sweetness of the butternut squash and the hint of garlic manages to marry the flavors to perfection. Of all the squash varieties, I think the butternut lends itself the best to a smooth as silk finish for soup.

If you are having a challenge with incorporating more vegetables into your everyday diet, or if, like me, you are a vegan who likes a variety of preparations for some of my favorite vegetables or a nudge to try something different, get your hands on a copy of A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen, Jack Bishop's great compendium of simple techniques to produce some fabulous vegetarian meals using seasonal produce.

Butternut Squash Soup with Chipotle Chiles and Garlic
Recipe courtesy of A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen

1 large butternut squash (about 3 lbs) peeled, pared and cut in 1" dice
2 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 small canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, minced (about 2 tsps) with 1 tsp adobo sauce.
5 cups water
salt to taste.

I had a smaller squash, approximately 1.5 lbs. I used 2 garlic cloves and 3 1/2 cups water but the same amount of chipotles. This made a generous quart of soup.

Heat the oil and garlic in a Dutch oven over medium heat until the garlic is golden, about 2 minutes. Add the chiles and adobo sauce and cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the squash and cook, stirring constantly, until coated with garlic and chiles, about 1 minute. Add the water and salt to taste and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer briskly until the squash is very tender, about 30 minutes.

Puree the soup in batches in a blender until very smooth. Adjust the seasonings, adding salt to taste if needed.

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