Butternut Squash Soup with Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla and Aged Gruyere
November 6, 2006
This soup is so tasty, David, I’m taking my pants off as I type. As a matter of fact, all the dinner guests removed their pants when the soup arrived at the table. Nancy and Daniel slipped away silently after a few spoonfuls, Michele was riding her chair like a thoroughbred and Waimuk refused to come out of the bathroom even when we told him Paris had arrived with her Sony handheld.
Practice a few times before you tell your date what’s on the menu. You don’t want to stumble on “madagascar bourbon vanilla”. She’ll be in awe as the words roll off your tongue. If you say it twice, she may remove her pants on the spot.
Roast the squash
1 butternut squash, about 2 pounds
1 tsp non transfat vegetable oil
Cut the butternut in half and scrape out all the seeds and stringy materials. Set this aside for the stock. Preheat the oven to 400. Brush the squash with oil. Bake the squash halves, cut side down, until the skin is wrinkled and they are soft to the touch, about an hour. Allow them to cool and scoop out the flesh, reserving any carmelized juices for the soup.
Simmer the Stock
2 stalks of celery cut into large chunks
3 carrots cut into large chunks
1 bulb of garlic separated, but not peeled
12 cups of water, plus more as needed
3 medium potatoes cut into 1/4s
3 onions cut into 1/8ths
1/2 bunch of parsley, stems and all
10 sprigs of thyme
1 sprig of rosemary
1 tsp coarse sea salt
10 green peppercorns
1 bay leaf
scrapings from the squash
Sautee the onions in 2 Tbs olive oil until translucent. Add the white wine and simmer until reduced by half. Add the water, turn up the heat to high and add all the vegetables. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour. Strain the stock, transfer to a smaller pot and simmer for 10 minutes more.
Make Love to the Soup
2 pounds roasted squash flesh
3Tbs clarified butter
3 large shallots, coarsely chopped
6 cups stock
1 cup heavy cream
1 madagascar bourbon vanilla bean
1 sprig rosemary
2 sprigs thyme
4 ounces aged gruyere, grated finely
1/2 teaspoon salt, to taste
Sautee the shallots in butter until translucent. Add the cooked pumpkin, reserved juices, a small piece of deseede cayenne and cook for 5 minutes more. Add the stock, the herbs, bring to a boil and simmer covered for 25 minutes. Allow the soup to cool for 15 minutes
Meanwhile, slice the vanilla bean lengthwise. Scrape the sticky gooey seeds from the bean and place them, along with the pod and the cream in a double boiler. Heat gently for about 20 minutes.
When the soup is cool enough to taste without burning your tongue, remove the herb stems and puree in the blender. (Tip: Don’t fill the blender to the top with hot liquid and press LIQUIFY. This could have severe consequences to your hands, arms, face and man parts. The scars are unsightly, but, once healed, could add to her pleasure, if you’re adventurous.) Return the soup to the pot and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat down, add the vanilla cream, the cheese and more stock if necessary to thin it.
Taste for salt, add a bit of cracked white pepper and garnish with thyme leaves. Watch the pants drop.