Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Day Eight: Butternut Squashed

Today's soup was determined by a butternut squash donated by Mandy, who works on an organic veg. stall in Marylebone on Sundays. She's given me this perfectly good squash that's a bit bashed at one end and a few sweet potatoes to play with. She reckoned they'd make a nice soup, perhaps finished with creamed coconut? I had some garlic and a small sack of shallots, so I thought I'd roast them to give the soup another dimension.

I went down to Oli's on Walworth Road to get the creamed coconut and coriander, plus one of their great big onions (as seen, below right) and their corek bread was fresh out of the oven soon after 10am, which is wonderful. I can't find a decent link to describe this plaited bread that's covered in sesame seeds and has been a great hit at the Soup Kitchen and nor can I provide a photo because it always get scoffed. Anyway, I assembled the following ingredients:
coriander, coconut,sweet potatoes, shallots, squash, carrot, celery, onion

My other expenditure today was on a roasting tray, which I used to roast off the peeled cloves of garlic and peeled and chopped shallots at high-ish heat, using a little olive oil and moving the chopped vegetables around in the tray so that they browned more evenly and began to caramelise. Meanwhile, I made a rough mirepoix of diced onion, carrot and celery and sweated it in the smaller, six litre soup pot over a low flame with the lid on, stirring every few minutes.

I peeled the squash, split it and scooped out the seeds, cubed the flesh and added it to the mirepoix stewing in the pot, then did the same with the three (or was it four?) sweet potatoes I had, mixing the contents of the pot well. Then I added four litres of Marigold bouillon, brought the pot to the boil and let it simmer with the lid on for a quarter of an hour. Then I turned the gas off and left it to cool for ten minutes before liquidizising. I melted the coconut cream in hot water and added that along with another two litres of bouillon while continuing to run the stick mixer and, I must say, the consistency of my soup today was silky!

Natty came in early doors, fresh back from Korea, where he's been entertaining the locals with Ska Cubano. Nat tells me he and Megumi - 'probably the world's top ska saxophonist' - ran a soup kitchen at the Pullens Centre themselves, back in the day! Apparently, they served miso soup with lots of vegetables in, which sounds great, but it was hard work and they didn't make any money so they gave up after three weeks. I challenged Nat to collaborate with Megumi to do and udon soup kitchen one day soon and I think he agreed but don't hold your breath because you know what musicians are like.

Nat got the first bowl of soup, officially, but Jan and Angela are also developing the knack of turning up around 12:30 when the soup is usually ready, and Oskar happened along soon after, so today's soup was critically appraised by four sets of taste buds and none found any fault with it. In fact, three of the four had a second portion. Somebody wrote in the log bok today: '10/10, the best soup yet!' Someone else wrote, 'all problems can be resolved at the soup kitchen. What a great thing'.
Soup Maker: Russell
Soup: Butternut Squash & Sweet Potato
Other ingredients: Garlic, shallots, coriander
No. of bowls served: 18
Expenditure: £9.48
Donations: £19.62
Running balance: +£76.06

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