Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Playing With Food And Learning New Tricks

How many times do you play with a recipe until it's exactly the way you want it? It's fun to keep changing and adding things along the way. I was thinking about that after I saw Ina’s Thanksgiving menu in November’s Good Housekeeping.

Here she is in the cover.  

Inside Ina gives us lots of ideas for a Thanksgiving dinner that has plenty of elements done in advance to keep it easy, easy, EASY!

Oh, this is funny. Ina talks about how one year she thought it would be really fun to cook as a group, so she assigned Jeffrey and friends, Frank and Stephen, different tasks so they could all be together in the kitchen. After the other guests arrived, the guys found their way in front of the football game and Ina was left alone in the kitchen…cooking all by herself. Now, she doesn’t even pretend to get other people involved. I think that’s wise.

The recipe that got me thinking was one that I think just about every person in North America (and beyond) has a version of - Curried Butternut Squash Soup. In fact, I’ve blogged about the difference between her soup and mine before. But now I’ve added even more variations to it.

The basic idea is to soften the onions and Granny Smith apples and add the curry powder and cook that for two to three minutes on low heat. Then you add the stock and butternut squash. 

The variations come in how you deal with the butternut. I originally halved it, put it cut side down in a baking dish a with water and baked it for an hour. Then I just scooped out the squash and added it to my soup base before blending. INA had the brilliant idea of ROASTING her squash, which, of course, adds nice flavor. The other way – my latest – is to cut up the butternut and add the chunks to the stock as the soup cooks. It IS a pain to cut up butternut squash, but it gives the butternut the best curry flavor, I think.

I've just come across a new idea. I wish I could remember where I saw it. Actually, lots of people have thought of this and I can’t believe I never did it before. I make the same soup, BUT I add a can of pumpkin to the soup! That’s it. That’s the only change and, wow, what a difference! Obviously it makes a thicker soup, so you may have to add a bit more stock. BUT it gives a much heartier, squashier flavor with more gusto behind it. Delicate it’s not, but warm and substantial it is.

Curried Butternut And Pumpkin Soup (serves 6)

2 tbls. olive oil
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced
3 onions, sliced
2 tbls. curry powder
6 cups vegetable stock
3 lbs. butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks
1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin
1 bay leaf
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat olive oil in large heavy bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven. Add apples and onions over medium heat. Stir until pan is sizzling, then cover and turn down heat to low. Cook until onions are completely soft, at least 10 minutes.

Stir in curry powder and cook over low heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Add stock, cut-up butternut, pumpkin, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Simmer, covered for 30 minutes. Purée in blender, food processor or with immersion blender. (The blender does the best job at getting the mixture smooth.) Return to saucepan. Heat and serve.


By the way, here’s Ina’s GH recipe - Butternut Squash and Apple Soup.                   


Edward Howard said...

Ina is always pretending to assign tasks to her husband and/or male friends but it's always something menial whilst she does all the cooking.

I recall one episode where the cooking for one of her “parties” was supposedly shared but in reality just turned out to mean one friend picked up a bottle of wine, and the other picked up a cake.

I suppose it’s true what she says….. how easy is that?

Sue said...

Hi Edward,

Don't you just love Ina? I'm sure those two friends who brought stuff went home and bragged that they helped Ina with the food for her party. I certainly would have!

Emily said...

Mmm the soup looks so good! I hope you guys have a good Thanksgiving!