Thursday Night Nicoise Salad

Thursday Night Nicoise Salad
Allow all of your salad stars to shine on their own. Dress each component of your salad individually and pile onto a platter. Simple food is just so darn pretty. Make something like this whatever you have on hand!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

zuppa di zucca

" z u p p a    d i    z u c c a " was KPK's soup special on our last day of the 2013 season at the Frankfort Country Market. It's a delicious "triple squash soup" and, of course, perfect for fall and winter. Because we have had so many requests for this recipe, I'm posting it for you here today. You can feel very free and comfortable about improvising. It's a good solid recipe that you can tweak to make it your very own. I love using both butternut squash and acorn squash in this recipe because if I use only butternut, I feel like I'm neglecting the acorn and/or vice versa. LOL. I LOVE the cleverness of using canned pumpkin which nicely thickens the broth and adds adds a creamy, hefty texture to the soup. Canned pumpkin is one of those products that you can feel good about because it contains only ONE solitary and wonderful thing . . . PUMPKIN! No additives. No junk. Just pumpkin! So, since you're taking the homemade route of using fresh and natural squash, which requires a bit of prep, don't feel guilty about taking the canned pumpkin shortcut! Oh, btw, I have no photos of the finished soup but below is a "pot shot" of the soup before the squash was tender and before blending. Enjoy!  Here's the recipe (I know it looks long but it's not -  it's just because it includes KPK tips and commentary):

z u p p a   d i   z u c c a


The aromatics

8-9 shallots, peeled and coarsely chopped 
1 large onion, peeled and coarsely chopped 
4-5 medium cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
1 to 2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated

The fat

3-4 tablespoons of butter
1 tablespoon olive oil

The main act

8 cups of peeled & cubed squash (generally 1 large acorn & 1 large butternut)
1 - 15 ounce can of pumpkin puree (not pie filling, of course)

The broth

6 cups of good chicken broth (I recommend one 48 oz. container of
Swanson 100% Fat Free Natural Goodness chicken broth - 33% less sodium)*

The seasoning

2 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt (I love Morton’s kosher salt) - (more or less if you prefer)
1/2 teaspoon of finely ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground cumin
generous pinch of each of the following (more or less to your personal tastebuds):

freshly ground coriander
cayenne pepper
turmeric
freshly grated nutmeg
dried ginger
cassia cinnamon

The process

Prep all vegetables. Heat butter and oil in your favorite pot over medium heat. Add shallots and onion and cook until tender for five minutes or so. Add ginger and garlic. Cook another few minutes and be careful not to burn (the garlic especially). Add cubed squash. Add all of the seasonings. Stir and cook for another five minutes or so. Add the broth and the pumpkin. Stir, bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. (BTB/RTS). Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes or so until the squash is tender. If the broth tastes a bit salty, that’s ok because once the vegetables are all blended, the soup will be nicely seasoned. You can re-check seasoning after blending.  

Once the squash is tender, remove lid from pot and allow to cool slightly. Carefully blend in batches, using a blender OR much more easily, I hope you have an immersion blender....... blend in the pot, using your immersion blender until nice and creamy. Now check for seasoning. Need salt? Need pepper? Need fiery kick? Need more of any spice? Rely on your taste buds and season to suit your palate. The consistency will be beautifully creamy without cream. If you’re watching your waistline, simply reheat to serving temperature, re-season if needed, and serve!

If adding cream, slowly reheat blended soup and whisk in your desired amount of cream. About 1/2 cup will provide a very creamy, rich and velvety soup.Be sure to check for seasoning again, as the cream will cool down the level of seasoning a bit. Feel free to whisk in more broth if you’d like to thin your soup.

Enjoy and be sure to improvise, using your favorite spices. 


The finish

In KPK, we like to top the soup with a few roasted and salted pepitas for a little bit of earthy and crunchy contrast.  A drizzle or a few drops of cream would be beautiful. A sprig of something nice (like a tiny sage leaf or a tiny thyme sprig) would be pretty. Homemade buttery and cheesy herb croutons would be fabulous too.  If not, just serve with your favorite artisan bread and butter.  A whole grain bread would be delicious. Hey, we just brought home a two pound loaf of polenta bread with pumpkin seeds from Tartine Bakery & Cafe in San Francisco. OMG. I need to defrost that ASAP and make another batch of this soup!

Bon Appetit!
Love, Katie

at the Franciscan Estate Winery, St. Helena, California, October, 2013




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MORE 4 U

From here, you can continue scrolling down to check out some of my favorite dishes and KPK highlights.

For more posts (articles), recipes, stories and pictures, you can scroll up (in the right column under "What You Missed") and click on 2008, 2009 2010, 2011, 2012 or 2013. As of June, 2013, there are are total of 139 posts in KPK. You can spend more time here when you know where to look, right?! Another way to enjoy my kitchen is to click on any items of interest in the section entitled "Passion Posts", also up above in the right column.

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