STUFFED SQUASH SOUP: Hearty & Filling!

stuffed squash soup textThis soup started out as a Stuffed Squash recipe I was developing. I had a lot of leftover filling and, as it was on the bland side, knew we weren’t going to eat it. But as regular readers may know – I HATE waste!!! There was no way I was going to throw it out.

So, I put on my thinking cap. The filling was a mixture of butternut squash, mushrooms, chickpeas, rice, dried cranberries, pecans, and a shallot. An omelette was my first thought…but, no.

Then it occurred to me – SOUP! One can of whole tomatoes, tomato sauce, and an onion later I had an amazing dinner. The result was a delightful blend of textures and flavors.

When life sends you lemons, make lemonade.

STUFFED SQUASH SOUP – makes about 10 cups

  • 1 small butternut squash
  • 1/2 cup uncooked rice (I use Trader Joe’s 3 Rice Medley)
  • 1½ T olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 1 T pressed garlic
  • 8 oz mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 tsp kosher salt (or 1/2 tsp table salt)
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 15 oz can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 28 oz can whole tomatoes, chopped
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1½ cups water
  • 1 cup cilantro, chopped

Preheat oven to 375º Fahrenheit.

Wash and dry the butternut squash. You’re going to need to cut it in half lengthwise. In order to prevent injury, soften the squash a bit by microwaving it for 3 minutes ONLY. (You don’t need to pierce it.) Turn it over and zap it for another 30 seconds. Slice it in half lengthwise and place halves cut side down on a rimmed cookie sheet. Bake in 375º F oven for about 25 minutes – until flesh can be pierced with a knife. butternut squash soup9Let cool enough to handle. Scrape out and discard seeds and fibers. Cut into 1/2″ slices, then cut away the peel. Cut flesh into 1/2″ cubes. butternut squash soup10While squash is cooking, cook the rice.

In a Dutch oven, heat the oil over a medium flame. Add in onions and cook for 4 minutes, stirring often. skillet 5Add in shallot, garlic, mushrooms, salt, and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes over medium/high flame, stirring often. stuffed squash soup2Add in squash, rice, garbanzo beans, cranberries, pecans, thyme, chopped tomatoes and it’s juice, tomato sauce, and water. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to maintain a simmer for 15 minutes, uncovered.stuffed squash soup1 Stir in cilantro, adjust seasoning if needed, and serve.

 

TERIYAKI TOFU NOODLE BOWLS: As Good As I Remember!

noodle bowl textMy family has fond memories of the teriyaki noodle bowls from a local restaurant that closed years ago. Not only did they serve meat choices, but they offered perfectly grilled tofu, too. It was crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside.  Topping it off was a luscious, thick teriyaki sauce.

After a recent, nostalgic discussion of these noodle bowls, I decided to try and recreate it. It took a few attempts with the sauce, but I finally got it right. Of course, me being me, I made the noodles, too.

TERIYAKI TOFU NOODLE BOWLS – serves about 3

  • about 21 oz extra firm tofu
  • 1 T sesame seeds, lightly toasted
  • 3 carrots, cut into matchsticks
  • 3 stalks celery, sliced in 1/4″ pieces
  • 5 scallions – green & white parts, sliced into 1/4″ pieces
  • 3 cups broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup teriyaki sauce (recipe follows)
  • about 6 oz purchased soba noodles, or homemade (recipe follows)
  • about 3 T vegetable oil

Drain tofu blocks and press between 2 plates to extrude water for about 30 minutes. Set something with a little weight on top of the upper plate to speed up the process. Pour off water as it accumulates.

Preheat oven to 200º Fahrenheit.

Slice tofu into 1/2″ thick pieces. The thickness is important – too thin and the tofu can easily become rubbery. Then cut into the size you like. I prefer my pieces to be about 1″ x 1½” x 1/2″.noodle bowl4 Liberally coat a nonstick skillet with oil. Heat oil over medium/high until shimmering. Add in tofu and leave undisturbed for at least a minute before moving them. (I suggest using a splatter screen to reduce fallout.) When the tofu is browned on the bottom, flip and cook the other side.noodle bowl5 Remove to a baking sheet and leave in the preheated oven to keep warm until the veggies and noodles are cooked.

Heat the teriyaki sauce. (Recipe below)

Insert a steamer basket into a pot with 1/2″ water at the bottom and place carrots, celery, scallions, and broccoli. Cover and turn heat to high. Immediately set timer and steam for 3 minutes. Remove veggies to a large bowl. noodle bowl2Bring 2 quarts of water to a full boil. Add noodles (recipe follows) and cook until done – about 5 minutes for homemade.noodle bowl6 Drain and add noodles to bowl with veggies.

Add in the tofu, sesame seeds, and as much teriyaki sauce as you like. Mix all together and serve in bowls.

TERIYAKI SAUCE – make 1½ cups

  • 2½ T cornstarch
  • 4 T (2 oz) Mirin sweet cooking rice wine
  • 1 cup (8¼ oz) low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger or 1/2 tsp ginger powder (fresh is best)
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 cup (6 oz) dark brown sugar

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until thickened.noodle bowl3

Store unused teriyaki sauce in refrigerator for future use.

NOODLES – makes 3 servings

Note: If you don’t have buckwheat flour, then use 8½ oz (2 cups) all-purpose flour

Additional note: There are many excellent youtube videos demonstrating how to make pasta. It’s very helpful to see it being done.

  • 2½ oz (1/2 cup) buckwheat flour
  • 7½ oz (1½ cups) all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 T olive oil
  • water, as needed

Place the flours, eggs, and olive oil in the food processor with steel blade in place. Process to blend. Check the consistency of the dough – it will probably be too dry at this point. You want it to not fall apart when squeezed. Add a couple of tablespoons of water to start. Process about 15 seconds and check consistency. Add water a small amount at a time until dough holds together and is tacky but not sticky. (If you add too much water, just sprinkle in more flour.) The pictures show me making spinach fettuccine, but the idea is the same.fettuccine, spinach9 Form dough into 4 balls and place in the processor with lid. Let rest for at least 30 minutes. fettuccine, spinach10Using a hand crank pasta machine, roll out dough to one setting thicker than for normal fettuccine (it’s #4 setting on my Atlas machine).fettuccine, spinach4 Use the fettuccine blades to cut. fettuccine, spinach5