Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Let's Play Dress-Up
This is a superbly versatile recipe that you can dress up to suit your mood or tastes. Remember Barbie in the '80's, and how she was al about having forty different careers and an outfit for each one? Yeah, that's what this soup is about. It can be anything if it just puts its mind to it. I considered taking it to Thailand with a bit of red curry paste and ginger. It could assume a desert role with cinnamon and nutmeg. It can travel south with an orange - its zest and juice (the bright, orange hue of the soup almost begs for it). I was feeling nostalgic for summer, so I jazzed it up with the in-your-face presence of smoked paprika, amplified by a few crystals of fleur de sel (two appropriate and very specifically heeded gifts from my sister). I'm not usually fond of smokey flavors, but here the smoked paprika is surprisingly at home with the mellow root vegetables. You're not sure how they get along, but they do - kinda like the stern dad and the ubiquitous wacky neighbor in an 80's sitcom (one I'd be watching while landing on the moon with my Astronaut Barbie).
If you happen to have any combination of baked squash or sweet potatoes ready to go, then move to the head of the class; you're way ahead of the game!
Smokey Sweet Potato and Squash Bisque
plop of butter/soy margarine for saute
1 large white onion, diced
1 shallot, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
2-3 medium sweet potatoes
1 small acorn squash
1 package silken tofu
5 cups vegetable stock
1/2 t smoked paprika
1/4 t cinnamon
freshly ground black pepper
pinch of fleur de sel or good-quality sea salt
Preheat oven to 400F. Poke the sweets and the squash several times with a fork. Line the middle oven rack with foil to house the sweets and squash. Bake for 45-min to an hour, depending on the size of the guys. You know it's done when a fork easily pierces the skin of each veggie. When they're done, remove from oven and cut in half lengthwise and allow to cool. Scoop out the seeds of the acorn squash, then remove the flesh and set aside. Scoop out the sweet potato goo as well, setting aside with the squash.
While those guys are roasting, heat the butter over medium heat until melted, taking care not to burn. Add the onion, shallot, and garlic, and saute until soft and transluscent, about five minutes. Add the carrot and saute for another five minutes, until the carrot is slightly softened.
Add the stock, squash, and sweet potato and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to break apart the clumps. Add the tofu, stir and remove from heat. Puree with an immersion blender until smooth smooth smooth. Add the smoked paprika, cinnamon and pepper and stir. Add a pinch of fleur de sel at the very end and stir in. Garnish with a wee pinch of smoked paprika and a tiny hint of the salt. Serves 6.