Sunday, October 25, 2015

Banana Squash and White Asparagus Crème Soup

      An Elegant Tasting Winter Squash Cream Soup For The Holiday Season! 
     Banana Squash are huge and they can weigh over 20 pounds.  Most food market produce clerks will cut a big banana squash into manageable size pieces by request.  This winter squash has a nice semi-sweet flavor that tastes nice in a cream soup.  Banana Squash also tastes nice with the light savory flavor of white asparagus.

     White asparagus is always cut to size, like spears, then it is peeled and a large piece of thick stalk is leftover.  The thick stalks are most often used to make soup.  The peelings are usually discarded.  Using asparagus stalks to make a puree cream soup reduces food cost and the flavor is exceptionally nice.  
     Some extra thick white asparagus stalks are too tough and fibrous to be used in a puree soup recipe.  If the extra thick asparagus stalk ends are too fibrous, it is best to discard them or the puree soup will have a grainy texture.   
     Today's soup is very easy to make.  A blender, food processor or blending wand can be used to puree the soup.  The puree soup can be passed through a fine mesh strainer for a refined texture or it can be served as it is.  The flavor of Banana Squash and White Asparagus Crème Soup will certainly please guests on a chilly day!  

     White Roux:
     This recipe yields about 3/4 cup of roux.
     Making a large batch of roux is easy.  For today's recipe, only a small amount of roux is needed for thickening 3 cups of soup.  The extra roux can be refrigerated up to 7 days and it can be used to make many recipes.  
     Step 1:  Heat a sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 4 ounces of unsalted butter.
     Allow the butter to melt.  
     *If excess watery milk fats are present, simmer till the liquid evaporates. 
     Step 2:  Add an equal volume of flour, while constantly stirring with a whisk.  (About 1/2 cup)
     *The roux should look like a very thick shiny liquid.  The roux should not look dull, opaque and caky.  Adding too much flour is a mistake that many cooks make.  The proportion of flour to butter can only be adjusted in the first 30 seconds when making roux!  
     Step 3:  Constantly stir till the roux while it cooks.  Stir till the roux turns a pale whitish yellow color with no hazelnut aroma.  
     Step 4:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Transfer the roux to a metal or ceramic container.  
     Set the roux aside or chill the roux for later use

     White Asparagus and Banana Squash Crème Soup:
     This recipe yields about 3 cups!           
     Step 1:  Heat a sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 2 tablespoons of chopped onion.
     Add 2 tablespoons of chopped peeled celery.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced shallot.
     Gently sauté till the onions turn clear in color.
     Step 2:  Add 1 cup of chicken broth.
     Add 2 cups of milk.
     Add 1/4 cup of cream.
     Add 3/4 cup of small chopped peeled seeded banana squash.
     Add 3/4 cup of small chopped peeled white asparagus stalks.  (The leftover stalks from cutting white asparagus spears.) 
     Step 3:  Add 1 pinch of nutmeg.
     Add 1 small pinch of cardamom.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of ground fenugreek.
     Add 1 small pinch of ground sage.  
     Add sea salt and white pepper to taste.
     Step 4:  Raise the temperature to medium heat.
     Bring the soup to a gentle boil.
     Step 5:  Add just enough white roux, while stirring with a whisk, to thicken the milk broth to a very thin consistency.  (The soup will simmer and reduce to a thicker consistency later in the recipe.)  
     Step 6:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Simmer the soup, till the asparagus and squash become very tender.  
     Step 7:  Remove the pot from the heat.  
     Use a blender, food processor or blending wand to puree the soup.
     Step 8:  Pour the soup through a fine mesh strainer into a sauce pot.  
     Place the sauce pot over medium low heat. 
     Simmer and reduce the soup, till it becomes a medium thin consistency that can coat a spoon.  (The volume should be about 3 cups.)
     Keep the soup warm over very low heat.
     Ladle the soup into a wide shallow soup bowl.
     Float 3 cilantro leave on the surface of the soup in a flower pattern.
     Float 1/4 teaspoon of brunoise sweet mini red bell pepper on the soup in middle of the cilantro leaf flower pattern.  (Brunoise = 1/8" dice)

     This crème soup is gentle tasting and satisfying on a chilly day!

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