Thursday, December 31, 2015

Cookbook Thursday: 'Southern Comfort' soup

Looking for a nice winter soup to warm the insides. How about butternut squash soup with spiced creme fraiche? Here’s a recipe from “Southern Comfort: A New Take on the Recipes We Grew Up With” by Allison Vines-Rushing and Slade Rushing, a husband and wife team in New Orleans. The two opened two acclaimed restaurants in New Orleans and Slade Rushing now heads up the newly revamped Brennan's in the French Quarter. The cookbook was a 2013 James Beard Award finalist.

Butternut Squash Soup with Spiced Creme Fraiche
From “Southern Comfort: A New Take on the Recipes We Grew Up With”
3 pounds butternut squash
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 cups sliced shallots
1/3 cup smashed garlic cloves
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 spice purse (1 bay leaf, 1 thyme sprig, 1 star anise, 4 whole peppercorns wrapped in cheesecloth and tied closed with kitchen string)
1/2 cup white wine
1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
8 cups of vegetable stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated licorice root (optional)
Spiced Creme Fraiche, for accompaniment (sour cream may be substituted)
            Directions: To roast the squash, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. With a vegetable peeler, remove the skin from the squash. Carefully cut the squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out and discard the seeds. Place the squash on a baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil. Roast the squash until it is soft and caramelized, about 30 minutes.
            To make the soup, in a large soup pot over medium heat, melt the butter and then add the shallots, garlic, salt, white pepper, and spice purse. Cook until the shallots are soft and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the wine and cook until the mixture is reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the squash, sugar, stock and cream. Cook until all of the flavors meld together, about 20 to 30 minutes. Remove the spice purse and season with the cinnamon, nutmeg and licorice root.
            Puree the soup in a blender, being careful not to overload the blender with the hot soup. (Before turning on the machine, be sure the lid is tightly secured and covered with a towel to prevent the hot mixture from escaping.)
            Strain through a fine strainer and serve with spiced creme fraiche.

Spiced Creme Fraiche
1 cup creme fraiche
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Directions: Whisk all ingredients until smooth.

Cheré Dastugue Coen is the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” She also writes Louisiana romances under the pen name of Cherie Claire, “A Cajun Dream” and “The Letter.” Write her at