Monday, January 26, 2009
Guest Chef: Maria
I love when I don't feel much like cooking and Maria sends me photos and recipes. She must know when I'm uninspired or when it's so freaking cold I don't want to step outside. (I need a good soup, and this one looks pretty good.) So here's another dispatch from Maria. A few days ago I was stuck with that age-old question, what should I make for dinner? I assessed what I had in my pantry and fridge and decided to Google "squash and white beans" (Ed note: I never thought of that, such a good idea.) That's my fall back when I don't have a meal planned and only have random ingrediants. I came across this soup from Marth Stewart (never really felt one way or the other about Martha--don't tell my mom that, Maria). I didn't have celery, onion, diced tomatoes or leaf-shaped cookie cutters (who does). However, I did have the broth, squash, and beans. To make up for the onion, I added some frozen onion and bell pepper mix (frozen veggies aren't as good as fresh, but they keep longer and are cheaper, says the poor grad student). While digging around my freezer I realized I still had some containers of frozen leftover turkey from Thanksgiving (Woah, Maria). I'm not a big turkey fan so I just never got around to using it. We stuffed our turkey with spinach pesto so I figured it would taste good. I dumped it all in a pot (kind of following Martha's directions) and it turned out great. My boring bread was toasted and buttered and square-shaped. Ed. note: I actually think Maria's soup looks better than the photo of Martha's soup, frozen veggies aside (we all do it). Squash and White Bean Soup: 3 tablespoons olive oil 1 celery stalk, strings removed, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1/2 cup) 1 medium onion, diced (about 1 cup) 1 garlic clove, minced 1 1/2 pounds (about 2 cups) butternut squash, peeled and seeded, fleshcut into 3/4-inch cubes 1 cup canned diced tomatoes, drained (optional) 4 cups low-sodium canned beef broth 4 thin slices sandwich bread 1 cup canned great northern white beans, rinsed and drained Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a medium pot over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add celery; cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add onion and garlic; saute, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in squash and tomatoes; cook until liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until squash is tender, 18 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use a leaf-shape cutter to cutleaves from bread (Martha is freaking ridiculous, just toast and butter it); arrange on a baking sheet. Brush with remaining tablespoon oil; bake until just golden, about 10 minutes. Add beans to pot, and cook until they are warmed through, about 2 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. If you want to thicken this soup, I would recommend using corn starch with cold water and adding it while the soup is simmering. If you want to throw in turkey, like Maria did, I would throw it in with the squash if it's already been cooked and just before the veggies if uncooked. Or, if it's not boneless, you could throw it in with water and do up some old-fashioned turkey broth. I think the tomatoes are totally skippable on this recipe. So-so canned to tomatoes would add an acidity that won't pair well with the savory squash.