A Fall Soup with Asian Flavors
It is fitting that Asian influences are prevalent on the menu at Greens, a vegetarian restaurant that has been a fixture in San Francisco since the late 1970s. The restaurant was founded by the Zen Center and obtains much of its produce from Green Gulch Farm, another Bay Area institution owned and operated by Zen Buddhists.
This recipe infused with Asian flavors is from Everyday Greens, a cookbook published in 2004 by the restaurant's head chef, Annie Somerville. It is “well worth the trip to an Asian market to find the ingredients,” she writes. "With its thick skin and firm, dense flesh, kabocha squash was born to be roasted. It soaks up the rich exotic flavors of coconut milk, lime leaves, lemongrass and Thai basil, which adds a spicy touch." If you can't find Thai basil, she recommends using regular basil or cilantro instead. And if kabocha squash isn’t available, red kuri, butternut, or another winter squash will do as a replacement.
The recipe also calls for another Asian specialty ingredient, kefir (or kaffir) lime leaves (Citrus hystrix). Asian groceries usually carry them, and they can also sometimes be found at farmers markets amidst displays of Asian vegetables.
The vegetable stock that is the base for the squash soup can serve many other purposes. “The versatile stock is surprisingly rich, adding tremendous depth to many of our favorite dishes,” Somerville writes. “It is just right for risotto and all kinds of soups and stews, both delicate and hearty. It’s great for thinning leftover soups, ragouts, and pasta dishes, so double the recipe and freeze half of it for later. It keeps nearly indefinitely in the freezer, but only a day or two in the refrigerator.”
stock, 5 cups
the stock and keep it warm over low heat.
Place the squash, cut side down, in a baking dish with a little
water. Cover and roast until tender, 35 to 40 minutes. When the squash
is cool enough to handle, scoop it out of the skin. You should have
about 4 cups.
Heat the oil in a soup pot and add the onions, 1 teaspoon
salt, and a pinch of pepper and cook until they begin to soften, about
three minutes. Add the garlic, lemongrass and ginger and cook for 2
minutes. Add the squash, the stock, and the lime leaf and bring to a
boil. Lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, about 30 minutes.
Remove the lime leaf and puree the squash mixture in a blender
until smooth. Pass through a food mill and return to the pot over
medium-low heat. Add the coconut milk and cook for 5 to 10 minutes.
Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish each serving
with Thai basil.
1 large yellow onion, sliced
1 large yellow onion, sliced
1. Combine all the ingredients in a stockpot and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 45 minutes, stirring as needed.
2. Pour the stock through a strainer, pressing as much liquid from the vegetables as possible, then discard them.
Copyright 2005 Seasonal Chef