A fancy friend of mine challenged me to “Cook it Forward” and I was all oh ya what is up with that? She thinks she can mess with ME? SHE thinks she can mess with me? She THINKS she can mess with me? She thinks SHE can mess with me? Anyway, you get my point. She can’t. I cooked it forward like a fox. Initially I wanted to do a big elaborate Hollywood production type video but due to insane time constraints and a lack of any decent video camera I chose to instead take some sexy food pictures and blog it up when I was done. My youngest daughter, The Viking Banshee MMA Maniac, thought we should cook something cool for her mama; the lovely and talented Lady Friend. Tough for me to argue with that. She does a ton for us at home, much of it thankless, all while still being able to make my pants fit funny after all these years. So rather than wait all the way until Mother’s Day to tell her I think she’s alright why not do it now? Hey, Lady Friend, you’re alright. This soup’s for you.
Acorn Squash Soup
6 Acorn Squash
2 Onions (diced)
3 Celery Stalks (also diced)
1 Bunch of fresh thyme
A Crap ton of unsalted butter
12 Tablespoons of brown sugar
5 Cups of water
6 Ounces Chanterelle mushrooms
1 Small loaf of good quality bread-torn into crouton sized chunks
2 Cloves of garlic- (smashed and peeled but left whole)
Salt and Pepper
Extra Virgin olive oil
Alright, I feel like I should let you know this one is from I Love NY by Daniel Humm and Will Guidara so it’s a bit tricky and may not be for beginners to try out. Well, I mean it isn’t super tough but you need some decent knife skills and time management to get this one to come together just right. You may be asking what can be so complicated about a bowl of soup? But this is not a bowl of soup my Phat friend! The bowl IS the soup! WHAT?! I’ll pause a moment while you gather the pieces of your fully blown mind. That’s right. Someone get the hippies on the line. This recipe needs no dishes. Well, aside from the pot, blender, knives, baking sheet, two pans, etc. But hey, at least you can actually eat the bowl this baby is served in. Pretty cool right? I figure this adds a sexy level of zazz that will impress The Lady.
Ok, let’s get started. First thing you need to do is pop the top off those squash and gut those bad boys. In my house we don’t carve pumpkins at Halloween, mostly because we hate the look of joy and excitement in childrens faces, so I forgot how much of a royal pain in the ass this step is. If you are not comfortable with a big, sharp carving style knife then I would just hack these things in half and de-seed them, foregoing the “soup is the bowl” step altogether. But what’s the fun in that? In Canada we’ve got free healthcare so what’s a few stitches in the name of a sexy soup? And for anyone who gets queasy at the thought of eating freaky things like brains and gizzards and whatnot, I maintain that gutting squash is exponentially more grosser than even gutting a fish. Alright, squash are all cleaned out so let’s preheat the oven to 400f. In each squash you are going to drop in 2 or 3 sprigs of thyme, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, a pinch of fresh ground nutmeg, season with some salt, and a nice schloop of butter. A schloop is a Canadian measurement. It’s about 2 floops or half a gloop, or 2 tablespoons in America. With that sugar and butter this is gonna be a sweet and buttery dish, much like me. Place all of the squash on a large baking sheet and make sure they stay upright! Pop them in the oven and roast them for an hour to an hour and 15 minutes if they are a little larger.
The Lady took my kids to swim class around this point so we all know what my next step in this meal was. That’s right, crack open a beer and perform my favorite dance: The Prance of no Pants. If you are not comfortable in the kitchen I would recommend keeping the pants on whilst making soup. Hot soup is burny. Now that I’ve enjoyed me a nice pantless beer (the best kind) I get to chopping all the stuff I need to chop and get the stovetop ready for the steps to follow. So with about 20 minutes of roasting time left you can melt a schloop of butter in a pan on medium high heat and then toss in a few good handfuls of that torn bread along with one of the garlic cloves and a few sprigs of thyme. Keep tossing that stuff good until you get that bread nice and toasty. It should take about 5 minutes. Then set the bread aside in a bowl, of course removing the whole garlic clove and thyme sprigs.
With about 10 minutes of roasting time left you’ll need to heat up a sauce pan or small stock pot on medium high heat and melt yet another schloop of butter in it. Throw in the onions, celery and that last garlic clove and get everything nice and sweaty. When the roasting period is done CAREFULLY remove the baking sheet from the oven, making sure not to tip the squash. In case you weren’t sure squash that has roasted for over an hour is a little hot and filled with liquid that is also hot. Now, pour out the liquid in them into a large bowl and remove the remaining thyme sprigs. Leave 4 squash aside to cool a bit. Those will be the bowls. The other two will need the insides scooped out and added to the onions and celery. Proceed with extreme caution here, the stuff is scorching and can drip all over too. Now that you’ve got them all scooped out you can pour the squash liquid/stock that we’ve saved in the pot as well. Go ahead and pour in the 5 cups of water now too. Stir this stuff up in a counterclockwise motion and get it heated up real nice for about 10 minutes or so.
While the soup is cooking down you’ll need to get a pan on a medium high heat and toss in….yes, a final schloop of butter. We proceed to the sexiest part of this dish outside of the Prance of no Pants and toss in the super amazing mushrooms. Fresh Chanterelles can be hard to find and freaking pricey too, so if you aren’t inclined to head to a fancy market or don’t want to drop serious coin on them, then feel free to sub in oyster mushrooms. Oyster mushrooms can be found more and more at standard grocery stores. However, if you’re a mushroom nut like me then hunting down Chanterelles will be a pleasure. A fungusy, joyous, pleasure. Sauté the shrooms for 2 or 3 minutes and set them aside.
Ok, so we’re down to the wire here, almost done. Once the soup has cooked down and is looking and smelling sexy get it into a blender to smoothify it out. If you want to be extra super mega fancy you can then pour it through a strainer to remove the “pulpy” squash stuff but I like it a bit more rustic and slightly less fancy so I leave it in. All that’s left now is getting the soup into the squash and then garnishing it with some of the mushrooms, the croutons, and some thyme leaves. Lastly, drizzle some extra virgin olive oil on top, if you’re careful you can get a nice little circular pattern with it or something like that to sexify it up even more, and FANDAZZLO! you are ready to eat one of the finest, most elegant looking soups you’ll ever serve.
The Lady loved it and the kids thought it was awesome that they could actually eat the bowl. Keep in mind this is a heavy soup and can work perfectly as a meal on its own. So many people buy these things as decorations this time of year and then don’t even do anything with them. That’s crazy talk. If you got pumpkins and various squash sitting around after Halloween USE THEM! Thanks to my Fancy friend for nominating me in this Cook it Forward challenge and stay tuned on Twitter and Facebook for who I’ll nominate. I nailed it! Now, go eat your dishes!