Monday, 23 February 2009

Squash and Parsnip chowder

I bought a squash at Tesco the other day and made a lovely rice, corn, squash, and leek salad with some of the squash (the top) If you're interested, I cut the amount of rice in half and reduced the other ingredients by a quarter. Also used coriander (cilantro) instead of parsley and added a good teaspoon or two of garlic mashed with salt.

I still had the bottom (majority) of it left over, and a sprinkling of corn, so I thought I'd make a squash soup. I usually shy away from squash soups because they're pretty ubiquitous. Most, if not all, call for an apple or a pear along with nutmeg. I love the sweetness of squash, but don't want to try to pump it up with a fruit. I've recently mentioned my fondness for parsnips, and their sweet-ish delicious flavor. What better way to compliment a sweet-ish vegetable with another sweeter vegetable? Oh the heaven. I had this corn left over, and also some mushrooms that I bought at discount at Tesco. I also had some VERY VERY VERY sad potatoes that were demanding to be used before they turned into a moldy mess in my kitchen drawer, and I dreamed up this soup.

Due to my healthy eating attempt, I shunned cream/milk/etc. in favor of plain old water. I did this very complicated thing that I read in a recipe of boiling the squash seeds to extract as much flavor from them as possible. I'll leave it in the recipe, but do not feel like it's a necessary step. I tried searching for a Squash Chowder online, and every one had cream in it. I suppose a chowder by definition has to have cream in it. Kind of annoying. Anyway, hopefully anyone searching for a Butternut Squash Chowder recipe will come upon this one and delight in the fact that it is creamless (just realised it's vegan as well...hmmm) It's creamy enough as it is, and adding cream I believe totally overwhelms the flavor of the soup. Let the veggies stand alone by themselves, beautiful, sweet, tongue coatingly flavorful.

Squash and Parsnip Chowder

Bottom half of a Butternut squash (I KNOW the measure is so imprecise...lets say about 2 pounds (800 g) unpeeled butternut squash
1 medium onion cut into quarters
4 medium-small parsnips peeled and cut into thin rounds
3 garlic cloves
4 smallish (size of a tightly closed fist) potatoes, peeled and cubed
10 smallish cremini or baby bella mushrooms, sliced (not too thinly, they add nice chunky texture)
80 g (1/3 cup) corn kernels
generous teaspoon old bay seasoning
teeny pinch nutmeg (hypocritical, I know)

Cut Squash in half and scoop out seeds
Place squash face down on baking sheet with quartered onion
Roast on high heat until skin starts getting black bubbles
While Squash is roasting, put the seeds in a large pot and fill with about 2 cups (500 ml) water
Boil the water and simmer the seeds in it for about 10-15 minutes
Strain the water and remove the seeds, or be cool like me and fish them out with a slotted spoon
Add more water, and throw in the parsnips
Simmer them until the squash is ready
Smash the garlic cloves and make a paste with 1 tablespoon salt or Podravka
Add to the parsnips
At this point, the squash should be done or close to done (takes about 45 minutes)
Take it and the onions off the baking pan, and pour some water into the baking pan
Scrape up any squash and onion bits, and add them to the cooking parsnips and garlic
Peel and cut up the squash into cubes
Add it and the onion to the soup pot
Fill the soup pot to just under the level of squash pieces
Simmer about 5 minutes
Puree in blender or using an immersion blender
Add the old bay, nutmeg, and some black pepper. Also salt, if you think it needs some.
Throw in the potatoes, corn, and mushrooms, and simmer gently until potatoes are cooked through (about 10-12 minutes)
Adjust seasonings as needed

Serve with some nice bread, a sprinkling of finely grated Eidam cheese, and drizzled with some porcini and truffle oil (Yes, I'm a snob, just bought a bottle at Marks and Spencer's ) *smirk*

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