Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Small town winter soup

We've been feeling the small town winter chill lately. Trapped inside by negative temperatures in the twenty belows, looking out the windows, draft protected by sheets of plastic, at a slick cover of soupy slush on everything; you know, the kind that gets into the felt liners of your boots and freezes your toes and climbs its cold little fingers up the hem of your pants until you're completely soaked through up to the knee. And it seems like the only way to warm up properly is with a good cup of hearty soup and a long novel (I'm snowplowing through War and Peace for the first time, which is apropos because it's the only book that will last as long as the Canadian winter). But there are still a few good things going on in this small town. The farmer's market is still on twice a week. A nice treat to combat the cold weather blues and a great way to stock up the pantry with enough root vegetables to last you until Spring.

Saffron, Sweet Pea and Squash soup

1 large butternut squash, cubed and roasted until soft
2C vegetable stock/ or 1 bullion cube
3 tbsp olive oil
1 Spanish onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 dried chilli, crushed
1/2 tsp saffron
1C frozen sweet peas

This recipe is so easy and so good. Rub cubed squash with half of olive oil, season and roast at 425 degrees; it should take a half-hour to forty-five minutes. Wait twenty minutes, then take out a large soup pot (that you have a snug fitting lid for) and saute your onions and crushed garlic in the remaining oil for ten minutes or until soft and just starting to caramelize. Add turmeric and chilli and stir into the onion and garlic mixture, cooking for one additional minute. Put stock onto simmer and add saffron once its boiling.

When your squash is cooked (you should be able to stab through the flesh with a fork), peel if you haven't already done so and toss the cubes into your soup pot. Saute everything for an additional two to three minutes. Now pour saffron infused stock over top, cover and simmer for fifteen to twenty minutes until squash is falling apart. Remove from heat and blend; it's easiest if you have a hand-held blender. Return to heat, add frozen peas and bring back to a boil. Simmer for three minutes and serve with crusty bread and butter. Yum!

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