This week I picked a recipe from Nigella Lawson’s cookbook How to Eat: The Pleasure and Principles of Good Food. I’ve had this cookbook for more than a few years, (a card stuffed in the back of the book says it was a birthday gift from my folks in 2004). It’s hard to focus on the cookbook, though, with Mrs. Lawson’s eyes staring through me from the cover:
It looks like the most recent version of the cookbook has a different, less Mrs. Robinson-esque cover to it, which is probably a good thing. The book is structured around complete meals, and while I appreciate that sort of approach to cooking, it makes it a difficult book to use, since rarely do I have the time or foresight to make several dishes consecutively (or simultaneously). In addition, her tendency to use a lot of game and seafood that are not easily available at the local grocery store make a lot of these recipes inaccessible. And for someone whose cooking persona is that she cooks with passion, a lot of the recipes sadly seem to fall into the the stereotype of bland British food.
This soup (pg. 144), however, was good and came together quickly. Not a ton of flavors involved – mostly just butternut squash, onion and vegetable stock, topped with some Parmesan cheese. But that simplicity works well for a cold-weather, quick weeknight meal (never mind that March in Texas is hardly cold weather). The whole thing came together in about 45 minutes, and only half of that was prep time or time spent standing in front of the stove. I added some Italian parsley we had sitting around the kitchen, and it worked fine but didn’t contribute as much to the flavor as I would have liked – another herb like sage or basil would have been a better choice.
Butternut Squash and Pasta Soup
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
- 1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 onion, minced
- 8-9 ounces butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1/4 cup white wine or vermouth [I used 1/3 cup]
- 2 1/2 cups vegetable stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 ounces ditalini or other soup pasta
- salt, as needed
- Parmesan cheese, grated
1. Put the oil in a wide, heavy-bottomed pot on the stove and, when hot, add the onion. Cook the onion for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until soft, then add the squash and turn well in the pot for 2 minutes
2. Pour in the wine, let it bubble up, then add the stock and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer, then cover and simmer for 10 minutes
3. Take a ladelful, puree it, then return it to the pot. [I used an immersion blender here for 5-10 seconds, it was much easier.] Turn up the heat to medium and add the pasta. Cook for 10-12 minutes or until the pasta is cooked.
5. Remove the bay leaf. Taste and add salt, if needed, remembering that Parmesan will be added to each serving.