Soup du Jour: The Ancients

The overcast skies inspired the talented Chef to make two of his famous and historic soups.  Butternut Squash and the classic French Onion; the latter was a weekly occurrence at the Chef’s first restaurant–Holly Road Cafe. 

 Classic French Onion is a soup with ancient origins.  Dating back to Greek and Roman times, onions were readily available and easy to grow, thus making them the foodstuff of the lower classes.  During Medieval times onions were baked, broiled or fried.  Soup was always accompanied by a piece of bread, but what meal wasn’t?  The bread component was vital because the diner could effectively “sop” up every last bit of their meal, no spoon required!  Soup was served as the last meal of day because it was lighter than the other two–thus the word “supper” was contrived.  A good trick for someone on a diet!  French onion soup has undergone variations since ancient times and continues to be a favorite among many.  Especially those who like a hearty beef flavored soup that’s soaked up by piece of cheese coated bread.   

The Butternut squash is a winter squash that has a velvety sweet nutty flavor.    Native Americans discovered squash over 10,000 years ago and held it to be sacred.  It became a foodstuff of the early pilgrims for its nourishing benefits. 

The Chef created his own twist to the traditional soup recipe by adding a hint of ginger, orange and lemon zest—all to awaken the palate.

French Onion Soup

2 onions peeled, cut in half then sliced thin

2 cloves of garlic, crushed then finely chopped

3-4 tablespoons of unsalted butter

3 cups of beef stock

½ cup white wine

salt and pepper

fresh thyme for garnish

graded Swiss cheese or sliced

slice of toasted bread (baguette)

 Melt butter in a large pan or stock pot over medium heat. Next add onions and caramelize them to a dark brown, using a wooden spoon to stir (be sure not to burn).  Once color is obtained add the crushed garlic and sweat (do not burn the garlic).

Add white wine to deglaze the pan while scrapping the bottom using a wooden spoon. Add stock and bring to a simmer. While the soup is simmering skim the top to remove excess fat. Adjust to taste with salt and pepper.

Pour into a bowl or cup, add toast and top with the Swiss cheese. Place bowl or cup under a broiler for a brief period to melt the cheese. Garnish with fresh thyme.

Butternut Squash Soup

1 butternut squash, peeled seeded and diced

½ onion dice

1 tablespoon of fresh ginger, small dice

3-4 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 cups of chicken stock or vegetable stock

1 ¼ cup heavy cream (¼ is used to make whipped cream for garnish)

zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon (no white part just the zest)

¼ cup of white wine

¼ teaspoon of cumin

pinch of nutmeg

salt and white pepper to taste

Melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and sweat until translucent. Next add squash, stirring with a wooden spoon. After 5 to 6 minutes add fresh ginger and zest, cook for an additional 5 to 6 minutes. Deglaze the pot with white wine. Pour in stock and continue cooking, once the squash is tender stir in cream.  Next add the mixture to blender (small amounts at a time) blend for a smooth consistency. Place back into the pot and season to your desired taste.

Place soup in a bowl and serve with dollop of fresh whipped cream and floweret’s of fresh thyme.

To make fresh whipped cream:

Add heavy whipping cream to cold metal bowl and whisk until it becomes firm and stiff

Reference: http://www.foodtimeline.org/foodsoups.html

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