Fit for a King

I really love soup. Like, a lot. This is good for two reasons: I’m broke and it’s cold out. I just started a new temp-to-hire job (yay!) and I am immensely grateful to be working AND doing work I enjoy, but I had to take a significant pay cut to do it. This means I am watching every penny carefully. To save money I’ve been experimenting with soups that are more or less whatever’s in the fridge, watered down and heated up. Tonight, whatever’s in the fridge consisted of winter squash, mushrooms, leftover rice, leeks, onions, and pumpkin pasta. Surprisingly, it worked out pretty well.

I don’t remember the name of the squash, but it’s small (maybe 1-3 pounds) and it looks a lot like a pumpkin, but bumpier. The flesh is very very orange but tends to be a little green near the skin. It’s sweet and takes well to seasoning. That soup and some sauteed tofu with kale made for a nice warm dinner that protected me from the unseasonable chilliness we’ve had the last couple days.

A vague recipe follows…

Winter Squash Soup

Roast 1 medium or two small winter squash in a 400-degree oven for about 45 minutes, or until soft. Before putting them in the oven stab the fruits a few times so they don’t explode. Let cool, cut in half, and scoop out the guts. The seeds are edible and delicious if you want to keep them.

Meanwhile, saute some onions and leeks in a stock pot. Add mushrooms (sliced, a cup or two per your preference) and turnips (peeled and sliced, about 4 small). Add a couple cups water, some leftover rice (optional), and the chunked-up squash guts. Bring to a boil, season, and let simmer for a while. (This was the part where I stopped to make the tofu and kale dish.) A minute or two before serving throw in some fresh pasta. If you’re using dried pasta give it 10 or so minutes. Serve!

This made significantly more soup than I was expecting so I will probably freeze a good portion of it. My favorite part about soup is that you don’t need to eat much to feel full. It’s cost-effective and awesome.

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Tomato Pie

Tomorrow I’m going to an outdoor play with a bunch of people, and even though it wasn’t strictly necessary to bring a meal to share, I decided I would anyway. Coincidentally I had a lot of tomatoes to use up. I queried my social networks and ended up getting talked into tomato pie.

Now, I am not a Southerner. Tomato pie is a distinctly Southern food that I’ve never even eaten, let alone thought about making. But it looked easy, so I decided to go for it. Looking at the mayonnaise content, though, nearly gave me a heart attack. Luckily, my CSA recently posted a recipe for homemade mayo that made me feel better about slathering a pie in 3/4 cup of it.

So the first step was making the mayo.

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You need: eggs, a lemon, canola oil, olive oil, salt, and mustard.

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The eggs, lemon juice, mustard, and salt went into my trusty stick blender.

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After mixing in the oil, I poured it into a jar, and this is the final product. It’s delicious and rich. Like store mayo but ten times better. I find the consistency a little thin, but that can be improved with more oil, and probably with extended refrigeration.

Important tips: the eggs are raw. There’s no way around that. If you’re not keen on eating raw eggs, you shouldn’t use this recipe. But you can avoid getting sick if you use safe eggs (know your source), keep it in the fridge, and don’t use it in recipes that will be left out all day. Once you’ve made it, use it inside of a week.

Even though about half this batch went into the pie, there’s a bunch left. I foresee many sandwiches this week.

Next, it was onto the pie.

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(Yes, it’s a pre-fab pie crust. Shh.)

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In the crust: a whole yellow onion, chopped; a jalapeno, chopped, for a little kick; 6 or 7 roughly chopped and seeded tomatoes.

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Topped with 3/4 cup mayo mixed with 1/3rd cup Parmesan and a little more than that in mozzarella.

And 35ish minutes later…

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Can’t wait to cut this up tomorrow!

Summer sauce

This week I came home with about 3 pounds of tomatoes. On top of that I had equal amounts of squash, 3 fresh onions, and a bunch of cucumbers (but those aren’t important to the story).

In addition to the tomatoes I got, I already had about a pound. What does one do with four pounds of tomatoes, and the squash and the onions and everything else?

Sauce!

This is the beginning of what I’m calling summer sauce. It blurs the line between chunky spaghetti sauce and ratatouille (sans eggplant).

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In this pot, you will find: three small onions, chopped and sauteed; a whole head of garlic, also sauteed; 2-3 pounds of pattypan and summer squash, chopped; a pint or two of cherry tomatoes, whole; 2 pounds of regular tomatoes, chopped; water; salt/pepper/other seasonings.

I brought it to a boil and now I’m letting it simmer for a few hours. I’m about an hour in and right now it’s looking pretty good. I’ll serve it with whole wheat pasta and meatballs. Yum!