Focus on Healthy SidesNovember 20, 2008 | Posted by admin
The holiday season is beginning and we all look forward to the days ahead. Each week brings new invitations for a party or dinner; special times spent with family and friends. We start eating at Thanksgiving and before you know, it is January. We look at ourselves a little plumper and wonder how it happened. It seemed to occur overnight. When you stop and think about it, for over 30 days we are being offered goodies that, with our usual iron-will, normally would be avoided. No wonder the number one New Year’s Resolution is to lose weight.
Our first tip for a healthy start to Thanksgiving this year is focus on healthy sides. As the turkey is roasting, the smells fill the air and we either begin snacking or many of us eat very little, anticipating the hour when we can begin the feast. Saving room for that “special dinner” often causes us to overeat. Everything is so good and we return for second or even third helpings.
This year start your feast with this recipe I found on the Fine Cooking web page. The flavor of this Buttercup Squash and Leek Soup is fantastic—go light on the herb butter and avoid bread or crackers. This soup will not weigh too heavy and will keep you from overeating when dinner finally arrives. The herb butter can be made two weeks ahead of time and the soup can be made three days ahead. Keep refrigerated or frozen. Yield—12 cups
BUTTERCUP SQUASH & LEEK SOUP WITH HERB BUTTER
1 shallot, finely chopped (about 2 Tbs)
1 /2 cup dry sherry
1 /2 lb (16 Tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature (I revised this to
1 /4 lb – 8 Tbsp – unsalted butter, at room temperature)*
2 Tbsp chopped fresh chives
1 /2 tsp kosher salt
1 /4 tsp white pepper (more can be added to taste)
*The remaining butter in the original recipe was used to baste the turkey. I cut the recipe in half went light on the butter in the soup and still had butter left over.
Heat a small nonstick sauté pan over medium heat. When hot, add the shallots and heat to release their aroma and lightly toast them, about 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and add the sherry. Set the pan back on the heat and reduce the liquid to 2 Tbsp, about 8 minutes. Let cool. In a small mixing bowl, blend the butter, chives, sherry-shallot mixture, salt, and pepper. Line a baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper and spread the butter 1 /4 inch thick to cover about 8×6 inches. Cover and chill. With a small cookie cutter or a knife, cut out 12 small shapes. Wrap in plastic and freeze.
4 cups chopped, well-washed leeks, white part only (about 3 large)
8 cups peeled, seeded, and diced (1-inch cubes) buttercup squash (about 3 medium)
1 /2 cup dry white wine
6 cups homemade or low-salt chicken broth
2-1 /2 Tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp to 1 Tbsp white pepper (start with the lesser amount as peppers vary in intensity)
(I left out the salt and pepper, allowing individual seasoning per taste)
Chopped fresh chives for garnish
Put the leeks in a heavy-based nonaluminum, 8-qt. stockpot. Put the squash over the leeks; add the wine and broth. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer; cook until the squash is fork-tender, about 25 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes. Add the salt and pepper; purée in a blender (or food processor). Cover and freeze (or refrigerate up to 3 days).
On the day of serving:
Defrost the butter shapes. Reheat the soup over low to medium heat, stirring frequently (or in a microwave). To serve, ladle the hot soup into shallow bowls and garnish with herb butter and fresh chives.
From Fine Cooking 29, pp. 34
October 1, 1998
photo: Ben Fink