Almost Meatless Monday

soup and zucchiniI love making soup! There are infinite possibilities, and winter brings us so much great squash and root veggies that you can get really creative. Monday night I went on a squash kick. One winter, and one summer squash. Who knows where they’re growing zucchini right now, but even though they’re a summer squash, they seem to be available almost year round. I made these with prosciutto in the filling, but you can just as easily make them vegetarian by substituting something like mushrooms or some other veggie. This recipe is originally from my mom, although I’ve changed it up a little bit.

As for the soup, this is a version of the squash soup that I make every year for Thanksgiving. One of my friends has said that this soup may be the answer to world peace! Normally I use one butternut and one acorn squash, but I only used butternut this time. Really, any sort of hard squash would work here, and each will give you a slightly different end result. I think the fresh herbs really make a difference, so make sure to use them! You can switch out the chicken stock for veggie, and omit the cream if you’re dairy sensitive. The hardest part of this is peeling and chopping the squash. A sharp knife is your best bet, but they are slippery, so proceed with caution! A good vegetable peeler can also work well. You can also change this a bit by roasting the squash first to make it easier to deal with, and that would give you still another wonderful version. I saved the seeds and roasted them up with some olive oil and salt to use as a garnish, and also as a snack – super yummy!

Winter Squash Soup

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
5-6 cups low-salt chicken broth
4 cups 1-inch pieces peeled butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds)
4 cups 1-inch pieces peeled acorn squash (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 1/4 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
1 1/4 teaspoons minced fresh sage
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons sugar

  • Melt butter in large pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Add broth, all squash and herbs; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until squash is very tender, about 20 minutes.
  • Working in batches, puree soup in blender (or use an immersion blender). Return soup to same pot. Stir in cream and sugar; bring to simmer. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill. Rewarm over medium heat before serving.)

Stuffed Zucchini

Zucchini (one per person)
Bread crumbs – about 1/2 cup for 3 people – adjust as you make for more
1 egg, beaten
Prosciutto, cooked ham, or other deli meat, small dice
1/2 cup grated parmigiano reggiano

  • Preheat oven to 375.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add zucchini (whole) and cook for about 5 minutes. Drain and allow to cool.
  • Slice each zucchini in half lengthwise. Using a spoon or a mellonballer, scoop out the flesh, being careful not to cut through the skin. Chop up the removed flesh, drain in a kitchen towel or in a sieve, and place in a bowl.
  • Add bread crumbs, egg, prosciutto, and cheese and mix well.  Add enough milk to moisten and bring everything together. If it gets too runny, add more breadcrumbs.
  • Line a baking sheet with foil, place hollowed out zucchini on it, and fill each one with the filling mixture. Top with a bit more cheese, and cook for about 30 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.

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