Cookworks “The Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics”

Our bookworms were back in the kitchen and this week they whipped up some tasty, and might I add photogenic, soups.

Suzanne, our seasoned veteran and co-pioneer of cookworkery, hopped back in the saddle and rounded up yet another tasty tome.

The Barefoot Contessa’s Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup

Quick and easy. I did not have a food mill so I used my  cuisinart to puree all the veggies  and left the soup kind of chunky.

I didn’t add the cream but garnished with a spoonful of sour cream. The baguette came from Something Natural which I sliced, brushed with olive oil then sprinkled with salt and pepper before I put on the cheese.

When she says to sprinkle a thick layer of Parmesan she means thick. I had to put more on after the Parmesan Toasts had been in the oven for a few minutes and stuck them back in until nice and brown.

Yum. Thank you Contessa.  –Suzanne

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup & Curry Condiments

The Barefoot Contessa.  I inwardly groaned when I heard the cookbook for the week’s cooking blog.  When I hear Ina Gartner’s name I think of expensive specialty ingredients and overly-fussy recipes for someone who likes to spend hours preparing a meal.  But to play nice I thought I’d give it a whirl.  The soup section in Back to Basics has about half-a-dozen options, I immediately gravitated towards the butternut squash soup; and, knock-me-over-with-a-feather, no fancy, hard-to-find, over priced ingredients – even for shopping on Nantucket.  I decided to make it for my house mates and serve it with a salad from the same cookbook.

The soup is almost entirely roasted squash.  So I began by diligently peeling, seeding, and cutting my raw squash into chucks.  Only one severeminor cut later (use caution when cutting raw squash) I had assembled a veritable army of cubed squash with onion and apples ready to roast.   Into the oven it went, I roasted with a taste for cut-finger revenge.

Once roasted, I continued my revenge on the finger-cut-causing squash by brutally pureeing it.  A few cups of chicken broth and a dash of curry powder (ah, Ina, of course you said “good curry powder” for all your followers who buy shitty curry powder) completed this simple soup.

The soup recipe calls for several condiments to be served with the soup, to be thorough I served them all: sliced scallions, toasted coconut, chopped cashews, and diced banana.  Yes, banana.  Kim and Julie joined me to eat my squash feast; everyone loved the soup (and the salad) and enjoyed the added scallions, coconut, and cashews, but none of us liked the banana.

The next day the soup re-heated nicely and made my cubicle mates mighty jealous. The changes I might make next time: roast the squash halved and seeded to avoid injury and shave a good 15 minutes off the prep time.

Ok, I’m sorry for my assumptions about you, Ina, the soup is a home-run and I’ve added it to my recipe box.  — Beth

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