Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Most days I push myself pretty hard. I work full time and go to school at night. In my spare minutes I compose posts for Apples and Butter, do a bit of freelance writing and work my tush off at making contacts within my industry here in New York. During my best weeks, I even get up early to stop by the gym on my way in to work.
Today is not one of those days and it is certainly not one of those weeks.
I took my level three final last night at The French Culinary Institute. It was the midterm for the entire program at FCI and worth 50 percent of my grade. In other words, a big deal. While it is a relief to have the thing over with, I am feeling a bit worn down from the whole process.
The flip side of pushing myself so hard is that I also have learned how to hit the brakes and indulge myself a bit when it is truly needed. Today I have plans for a lunchtime trip to Strand to treat myself to a new (used) cookbook or two to flip through while I lay in my cozy bed watching movies, and a big bowl of warm, comforting soup for dinner.
There is something so restorative about a bowl of soup.
This is yet another riff (or shall I say variation? Somewhere between this week and last, I began to hate the word riff, which is entirely unfortunate since it seems to be the favored word of bloggers and established writers alike when referring to their own take on something: ‘My riff on Suzanne Goin’s bacon-wrapped dates,” or “we were riffing on different potato-based soups.” Ugh). I digress. This is yet another way to use my vegetable soup formula. Specifically, this is an example of how to use the formula to make a roasted vegetable soup. Butternut squash is the main ingredient, but I also threw in some roasted mushrooms. I find the savory flavor of mushrooms in pureed soup to add a creaminess that is particularly comforting and I may have mentioned this already, but today I am in need of some comfort.
Refer back to the original vegetable soup formula if you would like to make some changes to this basic variation. And by all means do. Your perfect bowl of comfort may not look exactly like mine.
Roasted Butternut Squash and Mushroom Soup
1 lb cubed butternut squash
8 oz domestic mushrooms, sliced or quartered, plus more for garnish if desired
1 small onion, or half of a larger one, diced
A few sprigs of tarragon
A few springs of thyme
1 1/2 – 2 quarts of vegetable stock (6 – 8 cups)
Salt and pepper to taste
Walnut oil (optional)
Preheat oven to 375˚
Toss the mushrooms and butternut squash with a bit of oil and salt pepper. Spread out the vegetables on a roasting pan and bake until the squash is tender, about 30 to 40 minutes. Add a bit of canola oil to a soup pot placed over medium heat. Add the diced onion and sauté until softened. Add the thyme and tarragon and sauté for a minute or two longer. Add the roasted vegetables to the pot and cover with vegetable stock. Simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the thyme and tarragon and transfer the mixture to a blender to puree, in batches if necessary. Return the pureed soup to the pot and season with salt and pepper. If desired, serve with a garnish of roasted mushrooms and a bit of walnut oil.