October 5, 2015
What day is it? What do you MEAN, it’s October? It was August yesterday, wasn’t it?
(Obviously, September was something of a blur.)
I find that not only have a page or two on the calendar slipped past me, but so has a change of seasons. While we’ll have some warm days yet — 80s later this week, in fact — some cooler days and positively crisp nights have signaled that fall is, indeed, here.
And I’ve been celebrating with soup. To be precise, soup and a couple of iterations of grilled cheese, which, if they’re not the quintessential fall meal, are damn close.
I had a couple of butternut squashes I’d gotten at the farmers’ market, that had been lounging on my counter. I decided I’d try a butternut squash soup after looking at a couple of versions online. The basis was a Thomas Keller recipe, which called for leeks, carrots, apples, onion, shallots, and garlic in addition to the squash.
Why not? Call it soup on a cutting board. I cut the bulb ends off the squash, split them open, scooped out the seeds, brushed them with a little olive oil, sprinkled a little salt, and set them to bake. The necks got peeled, diced, and sauteed, along with the rest of the veg. I added a quart of chicken stock, simmere it with parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme (humming Scarborough Fair all the while), along with marjoram, tarragon and black pepper and a little basil for good measure. When the roasted squash got soft, I scooped it out and added it to the pot, whirred it all up together with the immersion blender (best $20 kitchen implement ever) and let it simmer a bit longer. Finished it off with about a cup of heavy whipping cream.
This made a half-gallon plus two servings of soup; I have four pints in the freezer.
I made “grown-up” grilled cheese sandwiches, which is to say, they weren’t American cheese. They were butterkase and fontina, both of which I found on the mark-down counter in the Kroger cheese section, and they were on homemade sandwich bread. These were quite excellent grilled cheese sandwiches, if I did make ’em myownself. Child A asked for another one a day or so later (I obliged, because I am a good mother, sometimes).
And then Sunday, because it was still chilly and because the idea had come to me in a flight of fancy and I wanted to try it, I ventured out on a made-it-up adventure in Street Corn Chowder.
I love Mexican street corn — corn on the cob, slathered in crema and mayo, sprinkled with chile powder, and heavily dusted with cotija cheese. Why, I wondered, couldn’t I replicate that in a corn chowder?
So I boiled four small Yukon Gold potatoes, mashed them, and returned them to their cooking water. Added a pint of frozen corn. Seasoned with smoked paprika, pimenton de la vera, chile powder. Simmered that. Added a sizeable scoop of cotija and some whipping cream. And when I dished it up, I stirred a bit of mayo into it.
People. This stuff was primo. Smoky and a little spicy and cheesy and creamy. It might have benefitted had I stirred a can of diced green chiles into it; I’ll try that next time. And there WILL be a next time. After I finish the quart I have in the fridge.
You can’t make a LITTLE soup.
I had that one with a different variety of a grilled cheese — a quesadilla. Between a couple of corn tortillas, I sandwiched grated queso fresco, some chopped bacon, and some sliced avocado, and grilled that. Sprinkled the whole thing with some powedered pico de gallo seasoning. Nice, except the avocado slices had a hankering to slip out. Should’ve just mashed them up.
Still to come on the soup front: Vegetable beef (I have a chuck roast in the freezer that’s destined for pot roast the next time I have two or more kids at the house). Sweet potato. Avgolemano, which I’ve never had but want to try. Pho, except for the fact I have some still in the freezer from last year. Tomato, before the fresh tomatoes are done for the year. Shrimp bisque, because I’ve always wanted to make it, and as I am going to the beach in a week and a half, I WILL be bringing shrimps back. Posole, because I let all last winter get by and didn’t make any.
So go ahead and cool off. And you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em come on over and we’ll have us some soup to warm ourselves up.