Cookin' With Leo
It has been a hot summer down here in West Texas, and out of necessity, I had to shed the garlic and medal of the Blessed Virgin. But, somehow my dear sweet Italian Fairy Godmother never showed up. She must still be having a great time at the Summer Fairy Festival, and I'm hoping it will run on late into Fall, so I can tie the sprig of garlic and medal around my neck again. That of course will keep her away for quite some time, but I never can completely count on it. Maybe she will show up in time for Thanksgiving or Christmas with some new Italian idea for cooking Ham and Turkey, whatever. But, in the meantime, not one Spanish, Mexican, or Aztec Fairy Godmother has shown up to corroborate with me, or to encourage me in any way whatsoever. I have, however, on my own learned a few veritable Tex-Mex and Mexican dishes since relocating here without such enchanted help (maybe I should be thankful, what would I do with two Fairy Godmothers?). And now, for all my northern friends who are used to Steak and Potatoes, or Bud and Baseball, whichever, I thought I might add to your eating adventures by providing a few authentic Texan and Mexican dishes. So, here is a recipe for Real Mexican Squash Soup. This is a great Fall warmer upper and appetizer, whichever.
Even though all my northern buddies never eat the stuff, and most wouldn't be caught dead with it, unless they hang it up on the front porch in bunches to scare the kids away on Halloween, I am here to tell you that Squash, if it is prepared properly, and of course well hidden with the other stuff in the pot of soup, won't harm you in any way and there ain't even a warning label on it to say not to discard it in the local dumpster. So go get one, a squash that is, for this recipe.
What to look for and get:
1 medium size butternut squash (come on all you 'Yanks', look around all the supers, one of them is bound to have it). Ok! now that you found one, peel it (you don't need rubber gloves) and cut it up into 1 inch pieces (and now you can even remove the facemask, and the kids are safe in the kitchen too, the worst is over).
Other foreign objects (for my northern Yankee buddies, that is) to get:
1 chayote, peel that too and cut it up in 1 inch pieces.
4 Tomatillos, remove the papery skin and cut into quarters.
1 jalapeno pepper, remove the seeds (you yanks may need the gloves for that, and keep your fingers out of your eyes if they water a bit), and cut it up in coarse pieces.
1 tablespoon chopped chipotle chilies (look in the Mexican section of the super, these come in a little can with a little green chili pepper on the label and may be marked hot or medium).
And, this is the other stuff you find anywhere above or below the Mason/Dixon Line and not only West of the Mississippi but East of it too:
Bacon grease, lard, or if you want to get fancy, Vegetable or Olive Oil (I prefer the Bacon Grease since it has a flavor of its own). Anyway you only need enough (a tablespoon) to grease the pan.
2 garlic cloves chopped fine
1 small yellow onion chopped up
4 cups, chicken broth, if you find that in a can marked Lite or Reduced Fat skip it, find a big can of regular chicken broth, which is cheaper, and which may contain some salt, but that will keep you from adding salt to the pot. And, I am sure you have noticed by now that most of my recipes don't call for salt anyway, as most stuff has enough salt already added.
¼ cup honey, real bee stuff that is.
And that is the complete list so now let's get busy.
First of all get a good-sized cast Iron skillet or Dutch oven and pop in the grease, oil, whichever. Warm it and let the grease coat the pan. Pop in the garlic and onion and let them heat a few minutes until soft. Add the chayote, tomatillos and jalepano and let them cook 4 or 5 minutes until they are soft. Add the Squash and broth and bring to a boil.
Now cut the heat back to a low simmer and cover the pot. Simmer for about 30 minutes until all the vegetables are very soft and make sure you stir the pot once in a while so that nothing sticks to the bottom. Add the Chipotle and Honey and cook an additional 5 minutes and stir to blend all the ingredients.
Let that cool a bit and dig out your blender or food processor. Pour the liquid in and blend in batches, be careful blending hot liquids. When completely blended return to pot and heat for serving. Serve in a large bowl with a dollop of sour cream and fresh ground pepper on top.
And a can or two of Colorado Kool Aid will go good with that.
Ya'all enjoy ya'heah
And you 'Yanks' too!