Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Squash are Coming! The Squash are Coming!

Get out the lanterns and signal the invasion. The summer squash are back. Zucchini and yellow crooked-neck squash all in prolific force and ready for new recipes. Of course there are plenty of good old recipes to make, but with summer squash being what it is, there should be plenty left for experimenting.

My most recent test was on a recipe for a simple chilled soup featuring the yellow summer squash I got in a CSA box. These are such pretty little things with delicate, smooth skin and subtle favor to match. It seems almost a shame to chop them up, cook them in broth and mercilessly puree them into a smooth and creamy chilled soup. Well, okay, perhaps not exactly a shame.

This soup has subtle flavors that satisfy nonetheless. It’s filling without being fatty, nicely seasoned with a little cumin and coriander, and a little bit tangy from the plain yogurt added at the end. I sweetened it with a bit of carrot, which also enhanced the pale yellow color of the final product.

As usual, I used an immersion blender to puree the soup, but you cold use a regular blender and puree it in batches. Just be careful with the hot soup. It’s probably best to remove the little insert in the blender lid and place a folded towel over the empty space. That will allow some of the heat and steam to escape while blending. The soup can probably be made more smooth in the regular blender. My immersion blender tends to leave a few little bits behind, which I don’t mind. (I’d rather chew a few bits of vegetable than clean the blender container!)

I’m sure additional or different herbs and spices could be added to this soup, or perhaps even other vegetables. I’m thinking of trying this again when I can stir some fresh sweet corn into it. It really is a blank canvas waiting to be punched up, but I was actually quite surprised at how flavorful this simple version really is. Perhaps it could even be made into a green soup with zucchini instead of the yellow squash. At the rate the zucchini is invading, I might just have to try it.

Chilled Summer Squash Soup
Based on a recipe in Cooking Light magazine. I used unsalted, homemade broth in this soup. You may want to adjust the amount of salt you add based on your ingredients.

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped carrot
½ teaspoon coarse salt, plus more to taste
1 pound chopped yellow summer squash
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 cups vegetable broth
6 ounces (about ¾ cup) plain yogurt
additional yogurt and chopped fresh herbs for garnish if desired

1. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot and ½ teaspoon salt. Cook about 5 minutes, or until the onion is translucent, stirring occasionally.

2. Add the squash and cook another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the cumin and coriander and cook 1 minute more, stirring frequently.

3. Add the vegetable broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and boil gently for about 30 minutes, or until the carrot and squash are tender.

4. Remove from the heat and allow to cool, uncovered, at least 10 minutes. Puree the soup with an immersion blender or in batches in a blender. Taste for salt and add more if desired. Cover and chill at least 2 hours.

5. Whisk in the yogurt. Taste for salt again and add more if desired. Serve garnished with a dollop of yogurt and herbs.

Makes 4-5 servings.

Other recipes like this one: Cold Cucumber Soup, Gazpacho

One year ago: Pain au Chocolate

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