Friday, November 21, 2008

soup and sandwich

This is butternut squash soup with sage and a kind of croquette monsieur. It's like grown up soup and sandwich. I made this soup for a friend's birthday party lunch last November and it was very well received. My husband and I have long enjoyed it but it was nice to hear from others that it was good. Oh, my delicate ego! It is unlike other butternut squash soups I have had in that it is neither as thick as baby food nor is it bright orange. I don't really like those types of soups. This soup is light and creamy and truly savory. Delightfully savory and an acceptable color for food to be.

butternut squash soup with sage and sausage
4 – 6 servings
1 large butternut squash, about 3 pounds, halved, seeds removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound sweet (this important, don't get the hot or spicy kind) Italian sausage, removed from casings
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chopped dried sage
1/2 teaspoon chopped dried marjoram
4 cups low sodium chicken stock
1 teaspoon cider vinegar or lemon juice
1/2 cup heavy cream, or more to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Lightly coat the squash halves with 1 teaspoon of the oil. Season the inside with salt and pepper and place cut-side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake until very tender, about 45 minutes. When the squash is cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh and set aside. Throw the peel away.
In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add the remaining vegetable oil and, when hot but not smoking, add the sausage. Cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until the onions wilted and starting to caramelize, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic, sage and marjoram, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the cooked squash and chicken stock, stir well to combine, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
With a hand-held immersion blender, or in batches in a food processor or blender, puree the soup. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a clean saucepan. Add the cider vinegar and stir to combine. Add the cream and adjust seasoning, to taste.

The sandwich, as i have already said is a type of croquette monsieur. I know there are so many variations of this sandwich out there on the interwebz but here is mine. When I taught cooking over the summer, this was a big hit with the girls! I was surprised!

Croquette Monsieur
serves 2
4 slices of good white bread
4 ounces of good quality sliced ham
2 ounces of sharp cheese - Gruyere is traditional but baby swiss or even a sharp cheddar would work
3 tablespoons of butter

For the mustard sauce
1 tablespoon of butter
1 tablespoon of flour
1 tablespoon of dijion mustard
1 tablespoon of whole grain coarse mustard
1/2 cup of milk

In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and stir together to make a roux. Add the milk and then stir in the mustard and some salt and pepper to your taste. No, just assemble the sandwiches with the ham, cheese and then the mustard sauce. Melt the 3 tablespoons of butter over high heat and once it is foamy, carefully add the sandwiches and turn once the first side is golden brown. It's really so good! Maybe less mustard for folks who don't like mustard and I think you could get the same creamy mustard effect by mixing the mustard with some mayonnaise, but you didn't hear that here!

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