Friday Night Dinner 2

What We’re Eating – Roasted Butternut Squash Soup 

Butternut squash isn’t a staple of the supermarkets here the way it is in NY during Fall and Winter. I’ve seen it pop up just a few times in last couple of months, so when I saw it this week, I immediately started craving a Roasted Butternut Squash and Garlic Soup that I’ve been making for years. It might also be because I’m still trying to kick the cold I’ve had for over a week, and when I feel sick, I want this creamy warm soup loaded with garlic. Christine and her clan have had it more than once. I seem to remember a Squash Soup-Off one Halloween… when my soup won some praise! Here’s the recipe:

Screen Shot 2014-02-13 at 9.51.45 PMINGREDIENTS

  • 4 pounds butternut squash (1 big or 2 medium), halved lengthwise and seeds removed
  • 2 leeks
  • 5 cups vegetable or chicken broth (we use veggie.)
  • 20 garlic cloves
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds, for garnish (optional)
  • Olive oil
  1. Heat the oven to 425°F (180°C) and arrange a rack in the middle.
  2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the squash pieces cut-side up on the baking sheet. Brush olive oil over the tops and insides of the squash halves (or you can rub it on with your fingers). Season generously with salt and pepper. Roast until tender, about 50 minutes to 1 hour.
  3. Also coat the peeled garlic cloves with some olive oil and place in the oven for about 20 minutes or until they’re tender. Add some water if they’re browning.
  4. Meanwhile, chop the leeks and sauté them with olive oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes.
  5. When the squash is ready, and has cooled a bit, use a large spoon to scoop out the flesh an put it into a pot. Add the leeks; discard the skins.
  6. Add the broth, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally and breaking up any large pieces of squash, until the flavors meld, about 15 minutes.
  7. Using a blender or hand blender, purée the soup until smooth. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve garnished with a bit of olive oil and the pumpkin seeds, if using.

We’ll serve it simply tonight (because I’m pooped) with bread, cheese and green salad.

Christine: Your soup definitely won the cook-off! (It’s a defeat that still pains my very competitive son.) But you deserved it. This soup is magically delicious–I especially love the roasted garlic flavor that is so, so satisfying and warm.

I think of you guys so often when I go to Adams to shop, knowing I have a seemingly limitless array of options of fresh fruits and vegetables from around the world and you are limited to what the Carrefour has in stock (which is also impressive, to be sure). I am trying to be more thoughtful about eating more of the things that are in season this winter (and of course local, but it’s difficult to grow stuff when there’s two feet of snow on the ground). Once upon a time, a yoga teacher told me that our bodies function best if we eat only foods that are in season AND only foods that are native to the farmlands of one’s ancestors. It’s a theory that sounds a little suspect, of course, and I like bananas and peaches and avocados way too much to follow that rule to the letter, but holding off on purchasing certain foods until they are not force-ripened and local(er) is a practice worth considering.

Not having every single food option at one’s disposal every single day makes eating the things you love all the more delicious when you find them, no?


What We’re Talking About – Aperitivo and What Christine’s Talking About.

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I was going to talk about the Aperitivo Culture here in Bologna, but I read Christine’s post first, and evidently I have more to say about adolescent bullying around the world (see more next door) than I do about before-dinner drinks! But anyway… we’re invited to share aperitivo with a few friends tonight. They are a couple from Portland with 2 kids that are in Bologna on sabbatical for one year, and an Italian-Mexican couple, also with 2 kids, who have been here for a few years after a 10-year stint in Japan. We all have children at the same school, so after their myriad of Friday activities (ballet, soccer, math club, spanish…), we plan to meet for the Bolognese evening ritual that is Aperitivo. There are hundred of bars where we could gather and commune with thousands of families and singles doing exactly the same thing between 7 and 9 pm – talking, eating, drinking and munching, before going off to their real dinners. If the weather stays in the 50s (I’m sorry Christine), we might head to our favorite warmer weather spot on Piazza Santo Stefano, Caffe Sette Chiese. Or we could go a little fancier at Zanarini, located on Via Farini, which is a pretty cobblestone street lined with big name fashion brands. Despite it’s somewhat snooty address, it’s a comfortable and family-friendly place. Really, it’s hard to go wrong. Every bar will have a good bottle of prosecco or pignoleto frizzante waiting and loads of hors d’oeuvres, which, for a reason we have yet to understand, are totally free! The treats vary from chips and olives to pizzettes and bruschetta to sformato di verdure (a veggie flan) and deep fried dough, and as soon as a tray is empty, it’s replaced with a fully-loaded new one. This is another good reason to keep our dinner light tonight! Salute!

Christine: Oooohhh…aperitivo! My very favorite part of any meal! (Wait, is it considered part of a meal, or something entirely separate?) No matter, I could make a meal out of picky (and fried) little treats and wine. And sitting outside right now…well that’s the most delicious sounding element of your whole evening. (We went sledding tonight, which was also kind of delightful (and we met a family who just moved here from Soho, sigh)) but I would have rather been eating and drinking with you guys and…warmer. Seriously though, I would like to start an aperitivo movement here in the U.S. I think it would mellow us out as a culture. Anybody game?


What We’re Drinking – Franciacorta, Ca’ del Bosco Cuvee Prestige


A delicious bubbly white wine – and to think I got here not liking bubbles in my wine! We’ll likely be having this during aperitivo, and not with our soup, because by that time, we’ll be ready for ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.

Christine: I love bubbles. Always have. Always will.


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