Friday, October 1, 2010

Sometimes in the fall

Roast veg soup

I love the way this dish evokes the season. The rich orange of the soup echoes the tint of the autumn foilage, the crunchy bacon bits call to mind treading through piles of dried leave and the mingling of flavours-smoky and sweet with just a touch of tartness-is that of a bright, but crisp morning.
The basic idea for this soup came from this recipe from an old Gourmet. I had tried it out once before and found it merely satisfactory. I figured it would benefit greatly from the rich depth of flavour that comes from roasting. I was not wrong. The soup also went well with the last stragglers from a batch of biscuits I whipped up earlier in the week.

Autumn Roasted Vegetable Soup (Serves 6)
  • 1 medium sized butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and chopped into cubes
  • 4 or 5 medium sized carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 medium sized onion, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 Cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 or 5 bacon slices, diced
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  1. Preheat the oven to 425F. Mix squash, carrots, apples, garlic and onion in a large roasting pan and toss with a generous amount of olive oil. Roast, stirring occasionally, until carrots and squash are soft and tender and onions are caramelized, about 40-45 minutes. Don't worry if the apples get mushy, but mind that your onions don't burn.
  2. While vegetables are finishing up in the oven, heat a small drizzle of oil in a large pot and add bacon and fry until crispy. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon to drain on paper towel, then pour off all but a teaspoon or so of fat. Add caraway seeds and cook for about a minute, then add the contents of your roasting pan, the stock, water, thyme, bay leaves and salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Bring contents of the pot to a boil over medium heat, then reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes or so. Using a hand mixer or a blender, purée the soup until smooth (or whatever consistency you prefer) and serve topped with bacon bits.
Buttermilk Biscuits with Cheddar, Tarragon and Chives (makes eight biscuits)
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup (1/2 stick) chilled butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • ¼ cup to ½ cup of freshly chopped chives and tarragon
  • ¾ Cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup buttermilk (plus an extra tablespoon for finish)
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line 2 heavy baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk flour, baking powder, sugar, baking soda, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Using fingertips, rub butter into dry ingredients until coarse meal forms. Stir in the chives. Add cheese and buttermilk; stir with fork just until a sticky dough forms.
  3. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead gently with floured hands. Do not over-work the dough. Form into a round, about an inch thick and cut into eight wedges. Use a pastry brush to brush on some extra buttermilk over the surface of the wedges.
  4. Arrange wedges about 1/2 inch apart on  the prepared baking sheet and bake, turning halfway through, until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Cool on a rack.

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