Thursday, February 23, 2006

Let Them Eat Bread With Their Soup Soup

Trust me, dear Blog Appetit readers, that I do cook things from scratch. How else would I get all the leftovers I tend to turn into soup?

This week's creation was consumed before I could get a photo, but I do have a related photo to share. The bread I used for the soup was very reminiscent of the huge, rustic round loaves baked by Poliane Bakery in Paris. The photo you see is from my trip last spring where I was able to go to the basement of the famous boulangarie and see the baking process first hand.

Let Them Eat Bread With Their Soup Soup

This was created from the remains of my dinner last Friday night. We had roast chicken, braised butternut squash with mixed greens, and the rustic bread (as well as roasted potatoes, a green salad and a glass of red wine, which did not go into the soup although the cut up potatoes and the glass of wine would not have been amiss).

The flavor of the braised squash and greens is important to the soup, so here's what I did for that. (So it's kind of two recipes in one post!)

Butternut Squash and Greens Braise

Saute 1 medium onion, chopped, in 2 tbls grapeseed oil until softened. Add 3 cloves garlic, chopped. Saute until slightly golden. Add spices, about 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes, 1 tsp Herbes d' Provence seasoning, 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a pinch of cumin. Cook briefly until aroma of spices is released. Add about one pound of butternut or other winter squash cubes (weight after peeling and trimming). Saute until squash pieces have browned a bit. Add 1/2 cup of chicken stock, stir and let simmer. Add about 3 cups of chopped mixed greens (such as collard, turnip, kale, chard, mustard, spinach etc.) Mix and stir, add another 1/2 cup of chicken stock and let simmer until greens and squash are soft. (Add more chicken stock as cooking if needed). Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.

The Soup Itself

This is really more a procedure than an exact recipe, since I don't know exactly how much butternut squash and greens saute and roasted chicken you have left, so please adjust the amounts to work with your available ingredients and preferences.

You'll need:
Leftover Butternut Squash and Greens Saute (I had about a half recipe left)
Chicken Stock (I used about 5 cups for my soup, you might need more or less)
Additional Mixed Greens, chopped (I used 2-3 cups)
Chicken meat, cooked, cooled and shredded into large bite size pieces (I used just over a cup, but only wanted a light chicken presence.)
Salt, pepper, hot pepper sauce (optional)
Thick slices of rustic, artisan-style bread (I used a country style loaf made from organic wheat, sea salt and water. If something like that isn't unavailable, use any sturdy, flavorful bread)
Grated cheese, optional (I used a cheddar)

Put left over squash and greens saute in large saucepan or pot. Heat over low to medium heat for a few minutes. Add chicken stock. How much? Until it looks like soup to you. You can always add more. Bring mixture to simmer. Add additional chopped mixed greens. I like a lot of greens in my soup, so I must have added another two-three cups. Stir well and let simmer a bit. Then add in your chicken meat. Quantity depends on how much chicken you want in each bite and how much soup you are making. Figure on one to two cups.

Cook soup until heated through and the additional greens have softened. Taste. Add salt and pepper to taste. If you want a spicy soup, add a few dashes of your favorite hot pepper sauce. Stir to combine.

To serve, place a piece of the sliced bread in each bowl and ladle the hot soup over the bread. Sprinkle some grated cheese over the top if you'd like.

The hot soup seeps into the bread and softens it. You eat the soup by scooping up bits of the bread with the other ingredients. Filling, not too fattening. Warming. And tasty. Very tasty.

A note on leftovers of the leftovers: It warms beautifully in the microwave. Just put your slice of bread in a microwave safe bowl before you ladle in the soup. Sprinkle the cheese on after you have heated the soup.

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