Maybe we thought it would be possible to push this consistently contentious debate into the future, giving our fledgling blog time to spread its wings before swooping head-first towards the soup world’s great schism: what is soup? But I realized, as I began to write about last night’s soup, that the question could not be postponed any longer.
I won’t summarize the ins and outs of a long-running debate among both regular soup-eaters and soup-bloggers cum-philosophers alike. Suffice to say, when in doubt, Alkon’s law of soup should be the first reference:
Alkon’s Law of Soup (Weak): if you prefer to use a spoon rather than a fork, it is probably soup.
Alkon’s Law of Soup (Strong): if you need to use a spoon rather than a fork, it is probably soup.
I’d had a very large butternut squash (herein B.S.) sitting on my counter for awhile, and since I’ve been roasting vegetable and potatoes (or as those with British affectations call them “puhh-taaa-toes”) non-stop, I decided to soup it instead. Also, I am a semi-professional soup blogger, so I kind of need to make soups.
The challenge was to make a B.S. soup that I would want to eat a lot of. In the past, I’ve found two main challenges to eating big bowls of B.S. soup: 1) too-smooth textures mean that I don’t feel full enough and 2) they can be too sweet. So I designed a B.S. soup strategy to overcome these challenges. First, I would mash the soup-halfway rather than puree, giving it a heartier, chunkier texture (thus invoking the debate discussed and resolved above). Second, I would balance sweet and savory for satisfying synthesis.
First I prepared the squash to roast with copious amounts of olive oil, rosemary, salt, and pepper – placing it in a casserole so the B.S. would get silky soft, but not burn.
Meanwhile, I prepared some savory contrasts: freshly-ground smoked-sea salt (in the mortar) and large, thin slices of salty and sharp asiago (on the lil cutting board):
Once I took the B.S. out of the oven, I put it in a pot with some dry chardonnay and a few mild chiles, mashing it while slowly simmering. Finally, I ladled it into a bowl, topping it with more rosemary, the smoked sea-salt, and plenty of asiago. It was delicious! And I preferred – nay, needed – to eat it with a spoon.
Bread eaten in accompaniment: None. The roasted Brussel Sprouts pictured above, and two not-particularly-photogenic fried eggs, were on the side. That being said, I would strongly recommend a light fluffy accompaniment to this heavy chunky soup: an eggy challah or perhaps a brioche bun.
Listened to during preparation: Short Stories (The New Yorker Fiction podcast): 1) Jonathan Safran Foer reads Amos Oz and 2) Paul Theroux reads Elizabeth Taylor.
What I would do differently next time/possible variations: add just a few cloves of garlic to the B.S. before putting it in the oven.