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Monday, July 30, 2012

More ways to enjoy squash blossoms: Squash blossom soup

Squash blossom soup coming to a boil.
By Linda Felaco

Most people who are familiar with squash blossoms have eaten them stuffed and fried, but that's not the only thing you can do with these evanescent summer treats. I came across a recipe online for a squash blossom soup that sounded absolutely wonderful, but who makes soup in the summer? Well, with all this rain, soup somehow didn't seem like such a bad idea, even in July, so I headed back out into the garden Sunday evening in between rain showers to gather some more blossoms. 

Like "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot" author Bob Yarnall, I treat recipes more like guidelines, partly because I have a natural aversion to following orders but mostly because I never have all the ingredients on hand that are called for. But for once I had everything or a close approximation, so I went for it.

First, to clean the squash blossoms, soak them in a bath of cool water and rinse thoroughly. Then, as instructed, I melted a quarter-stick of butter and added one onion (from Briarfield Farm on Shannock Road), minced, and a couple of crushed cloves* of garlic from the farm stand by the horse farm on Old Coach Road. The recipe says to season with salt and pepper, but I didn't see the need for any more salt in addition to that in the chicken broth, especially given that I didn't have any chicken broth and was using water and bouillon cubes. And pepper gives me heartburn, so screw that.
Ready to eat.

After cooking the onions and garlic for 5 minutes, I added 4 cups of water and some bouillon cubes, brought it to a boil, then simmered it for 10-12 minutes, at which point I added the squash blossoms (4 cups) and cooked for an additional 5 minutes as the recipe instructed. Then I removed the pan from the heat and pureed the mixture with a hand blender, which is much more convenient to use and easier to clean than a food processor. Once the mixture was smooth, I turned the fire back on and added a cup of heavy whipping cream in place of the half-and-half called for in the recipe. (The soup still ended up being rather thin, so I was glad I didn't use half-and-half.)

Once it came to a boil, I removed it from the heat, again skipping the salt and pepper (cheese is plenty salty enough IMO), poured it into bowls, and topped it with grated parmesan cheese and, although the recipe didn't call for it, grated nutmeg, just because that's how my husband and I always serve it when we make pumpkin soup. I'll definitely be making this soup again. Though next time I think I'll use less liquid and more blossoms so it comes out thicker, and maybe simmer it longer to reduce it further. Adding some potato to thicken it might work too. Buon appetito!

* Pro tip: Place the cloves on a cutting board and press down on them with the flat side of a broad knife to make them easier to peel.