Spice Is Nice: Summer Squash Soup
Berkshire native Alana Chernila, mother of two, and author of the cookbook, The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying & Start Making (Clarkson Potter), dispenses change and cooking ideas to readers and friends. She shares her peak-of-the-season recipes with Rural Intelligence to help us make the most of what’s growing in our region. Her first cookbook has achieved top-seller status, and Chernila has just announced that she has a new one in the works; tentatively named “Meals from the Homemade Pantry,” due out in 2015.
Sadie’s friend, Aurora, slept over last night and after waffles this morning we decided to head up to the Clark Art Institute for their annual overcrowded family day. We met up with Rosie’s best friend and her family and everyone had a buddy to make sure that they didn’t get lost in the crowd. But I have to admit to you that although we sometimes make it to these wonderful kid-friendly activities, I start to collapse. Crowds of kids make me nervous, and being around so many families can make me overly introspective and therefore useless as a mother. So when Rosie had an unbelievable fit when we tried to convince her to pee before we got in the car, I felt somewhat unprepared. Somehow I emerged from the bathroom, deaf in one ear from her screams, pants barely buttoned, and I was ready to go home.
Then there was a lot of whining, requests for movies, for sugar, more whining. I had my head in my hands for longer than I would wish. And all I could think about were messes. What a mess all this was, and I walked into the house and started Rosie’s bath because she had almost an entire stick of chapstick in her hair. Then the phone rang, and it was my friend Tanya.
Then Tanya came over and I gave her some of this soup.
I made this last night. It’s the best soup I’ve had since sexy turnip soup. It’s also quite sexy. Joey described it as a fresher mulligatawny. I think that he’s on to something. But this is what you need to do with all of your summer squash. And I know, I know, I’ll take a break from all of these Alice Waters recipes, I mean, what is this, Alana and Alice? Will we have a cute Brooklyn based novel? Then a movie with Amy Adams? No, I’ll take a break, I promise. But make this one first.
Spicy Summer Squash Soup with Yogurt and Mint
adapted from Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, sliced fine
a pinch of saffron threads
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp chile powder
4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
5-7 medium green or yellow summer squash (mix them if you can), sliced
3 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
4 mint sprigs, leaves only
2 T olive oil
1 cup yogurt
Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot. Add the onion, garlic, and spices. Stir often, and cook until the onions are soft and not brown. Add the squash to the pot, then the salt. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the chicken broth and water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until the squash is tender, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, make the garnish: Cut the mint into julienne. Pound half of it with a mortar and pestle. Transfer to a bowl, add the rest of the mint, and stir in the yogurt, olive oil, and some salt. When the squash is tender, let it cool for a few minutes, then puree until smooth. Serve topped with mint yogurt and with lime wedges on the side.
Reprinted with permission from Eatingfromthegroundup.com. All text and photos copyright 2008-13 by Alana Chernila.