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SQUASH sweet Potato Cognac POTAGE


Some of Autumn's ingredients land in this distinctive roasted squash potage.
Sweet potato, orange, Cognac jump into the mix and render this soup memorable.

A decorative swirl of beet juice with a touch of yogurt was added for effect...Halloween anyone?

My appreciation from my younger years frequenting French bistros...
have served a great purpose in my kitchen and ongoing experimentations ;o)


For those who know me...
you've surely come to realize how the gifts of...
Autumn bring me much contentment.


My yearly outing to the Squash Interpretation Center
(St-Joseph du Lac, Quebec)
 ...has once more offered us an immense variety of squashes.



So many squash based recipes come to mind and...
many will surely be shared throughout my ongoing culinary journey with you.


Although, for now...
I really wanted to share an incredibly delicious potage re-created from... 
a few mental notes I took while swooping my first delightful spoonful at a French bistro.

In those days, all I had the courage to ask the chef was...
"What’s in this tasty potage"?  
Can you believe...all I got was...
 "La courge et le Cognac...ovv coooursse".
With his distinct French accent and slight chef-style arrogance...
I didn’t dare push any more of my curiosity on him.  

I was then left to my youthful meagre culinary skills.
 With much tweaking and practice...
I’ve actually managed making this soup better than his.
Hah...how’s that for Italian-Canadian arrogance?

No matter, what the discomfort was with the chef in charge...
it was thanks to his memorable potage that I can now share my version with you today.

***

My very favourite squashes...especially for soups: 
Buttercup -- Butternut -- Ambercup 
...contain similar characteristics in their enhanced deep orange flesh and flavourful depth.


Due to the ease of finding the Butternut squash practically year round,  I certainly use it most often.  
Its sweetness and slightly nutty aroma lends incredible intensity to any potage soup.

I also usually roast squash in order to release the most concentrated flavours.  
It's also one of the easiest ways to get hold of the flesh without having to peel and cube it.  
Also, knowing that this part can be done ahead of time, is a huge time saver ;o)
***

After having made this potage several times, I certainly have found other welcomed additions:
To my surprise, spicing the butter and oil with the pungent turmeric spice has become a solid addition.
. Adding sweet potato has also accompanied this soup to achieve greater heights in flavour and texture.
. A version containing premium orange juice as well as soy sauce seemed to work best.
. Of course, offering the suggested spirit of Cognac does certainly enhance the overall experience.

***

Therefore, from my kitchen’s warmth to yours...
here’s my cherished recipe for:

spirited Orange and Sweet Potato 
roasted SQUASH soup POTAGE
serves 8 

Click HERE for PRINTER version of this recipe


INGREDIENTS:
(American /Metric measures)


. 3 Tbsps. (45ml) E.V.Olive oil
. 3 Tbsps. (45ml) unsalted butter
. 1 tsp. (5ml) ground turmeric spice
. 1 large sweet onion, finely chopped
. 1 large leek (white part...thinly chopped)
. 1 medium sweet potato, cubed small
. 4 cups (1000 ml) roasted Squash* puréed 
. 2 Tbsps. (30ml) Soy sauce
. 1/2 cup (125ml) Cognac liquor** 
. 1 tsp. (5ml) sea salt
. 2 Tbsps. (30ml) fresh Ginger, finely grated
. 3 big, roasted garlic cloves, or raw finely crushed
. 2 cups (500ml) orange juice***
. 6 cups (1.5 litres) vegetable stock****
. 1/2 tsp. (2.5ml) each of dried herbs:  basil, marjoram, sage, tarragon



Notes - alternative choices:
* Squash selections that do best in a potage: any one or a combination of these varieties: Ambercup, Butternut, Buttercup.
** Liquor selections: Bourbon, Brandy, Scotch, Southern Comfort and Whiskey are all great choices.  
*** Orange juice: replace with 4 tbsp. (45ml) concentrated O.J. and 1-1/2 cup (375ml) of water.
**** Stock: replace with 2 vegetable stock cubes + 6 cups (1.5 litres) of boiling water.


PREPARATION:
Note:  If there was a desire NOT to roast the squash ahead of time...here’s an alternative to cooking it directly in the pot:
. Wash and dry the squash.   Peel until the visible darker veins disappear.  With a strong knife, split the squash lengthwise.  Remove the seeds with its membrane from the cavity and discard.   note: if you wish, the seeds can be kept for roasting.  Cut squash into small cubed pieces.  
. In a large pot, heat the butter, oil and turmeric spice on med-high heat.  Sauté the chopped onion and leek.  Lower the heat to medium in order to caramelize them for about 15 minutes.   Raise the heat once more in order to add the cubed squash.    Proceed with the preparation as you would with the roasted squash version mentioned below......  


...Roasting the Squash (can be prepared ahead of time):  
TIP: Pre-roast the squash, then mash it.  Use what you need and freeze the rest [usually about 1 cup (250ml) servings].
1. Pre-heat the oven to 375F/190C/Gas 5.  . Position the rack at the 2nd level from the bottom of the oven.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Wash and dry the squash.  With a strong knife, split the squash in half (lengthwise for longer varieties).   Remove the seeds and membrane from the cavity.   Note: some SEED varieties can be kept for roasting: Acorn, Butternut, Pumpkin are best.
3. Brush each squash half with oil and place the cut sides over the garlic cloves and onto the pan.
4. With the point of the knife, a few tiny slits should be sparingly done on the skin.   
5. Bake for about 40 minutes depending on the initial size of the squash.  Use a knife to make sure the flesh has become softened enough to mash.   Remove the squash from the oven and get ready to peel when it has reached a manageable handling temperature.
6. Mash the squash and measure what you need.  The remaining can easily be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and applied towards other recipes.
Tip:  I usually place a plastic baggie into a measuring cup in order to store 1 cup (250ml) volumes.  Tie it up and place it in a freezer bag for any future recipes requiring squash again.
..................................................................................................................................


...SOUP-POTAGE assembly:
1. In a large pot, heat the butter, oil and turmeric spice on medium-high heat.  Sauté the chopped onion and leek.  Lower the heat to medium in order to caramelize them for about 15 minutes.   Raise the heat once more in order to add the roasted, mashed squash.  2. After cooking it for about 5 minutes, add the sweet potato cubes.  Once, almost cooked through, pour the soy sauce, and the Cognac to deglaze.   Scrape the bottom of the pot to loosen the brownish fond created by what was just sautéed.  After 30 seconds, the alcohol will evaporate and leave the spirited flavours behind.   Add the salt, freshly grated ginger and the garlic. 
3.  At this point, raise the heat almost to high and pour in the orange juice.  Give it a stir and leave it for a few more minutes before adding all the stock liquid.   Bring everything back to a boil and then reduce the heat to low.  Simmer with the lid covering the pot for another 15 minutes.   Add the dried herbs at the very end; right before processing to purée the soup. 
...FINISH and SERVING:
4. Directly in the pot, with the aid of an immersion blender, purée the soup to a smooth consistency.  This can also be achieved by processing the potage in small batches through a blender and then pouring it back into a clean pot.
5. This soup can be made ahead and served up to 2-3 days later.  It also freezes very well.
. Garnishing suggested: croutons OR roasted chopped nuts like cashews or pecans OR a decorative swirl of beet or cranberry juice with a touch of yogurt.  Enjoy.



With much trial and sampling, this spirited warmth in a bowl has truly become a desired specialty.

Here’s to enjoying Autumn’s harvest and fabulous squash transformations onto our tables.  Enjoy.

Have a fantastic week everyone.

Until we meet here again, flavourful wishes,
Foodessa


Comments or suggestions ... write me :o)
Claudia at: foodessa [at] gmail [dot] com
Go HERE for more SAVOURY creations.






Please take note on how I bake and cook...
Here’s a 101 of sorts to make sure that there are no disappointments when trying my creations.  
Also...just so you know...feel free to increase the salt and sweet factor since I'm not high on either of them ;o)

. Use DRY cup measurements for...you guessed it...all DRY ingredients.
Anything DRY gets measured by spooning the overfilled ingredient (never shake the cup) and then level off with a flat edged tool.  Exception...Brown sugar should be packed in and leveled.
. Use LIQUID cup measurements for...all LIQUIDS that cannot be leveled like for example butter, yogurt...etc.  Measure the liquids at eye level to avoid overdoing what the recipe truly needs.
OVENS are unfortunately not created equal.  Mine is so old that it has reached many degrees off it's norm.  It's really worth investing a few dollars to test yours with an appropriate oven thermometer.  You'd be surprised how many ovens I've heard about not being where they should have been.  Before you lose any more ingredients and much time preparing a new recipe...run to the store...you'll thank me later.