Squash, as soup? It’s yummy

Published 12:02 am Saturday, June 23, 2012

Try squash soup. You just might like it.

Our yearly visit to Charleston, S.C., during the Spoleto Festival was a success this year. The performances we chose were just the best. We heard the Westminster Choir on a Friday afternoon, and they had such good selections of music – from Rachmaninoff to Dolly Parton. Dolly’s song, “Light of a Clear Blue Morning,” was written by her in 1977, and it concerned her struggles from a split from a business partner. It was perhaps the most beautiful song of all.

There is a Piccolo Spoleto Festival that goes on during the same time as the real Spoleto. These events are usually free or much cheaper than the usual tickets for the main events. We just happened to see a poster promoting John Rutter’s “Requiem” being performed by the St. Michael’s Episcopal Choir. It was uplifting and free, and if you know church music, you know John Rutter’s compositions and arrangements are always beautiful.

That afternoon we went to the Dock Street Theater for a performance of Noel Coward’s, “Hay Fever” – a funny, funny play about a dysfunctional family who invites friends for a weekend in the country, and of course, everything goes haywire!

Of course, the food is the thing. The meals did not disappoint. We usually stop by McCrady’s every year. This year, Sean Brock had a four- or a 10- course menu, or you could order off the al la carte menu. We chose the four- course meal with wine paring and from the starter to the cheese course it was just the best. A salad of warm vegetables was the starter, then a fish course of shrimp with peas and butterbeans, and then the entrée was a loin of pork with a small amount of pork belly with vegetables. We choose a cheese course for the dessert. I was just impressed with how fresh everything was, and the portions were small and one did not feel full even with four courses.

Sean Brock has another hit restaurant called Husk, and we went for lunch there on Saturday of our trip. I tried to get a dinner reservation but they told me they were booked a year in advance! Lunch was a serving of fried green tomatoes with pimento cheese and a small slice of country ham. It was really a good combination and one I came home and duplicated. My husband and I shared the appetizer, but had for our main course a bowl of squash soup with sweet corn and a crab fritter in the middle. One could not taste the crab in the fritter, but it was a nice touch. I came home and did this soup and used a small fried cornmeal fritter and left out the crab. Our daughter once said of a restaurant dish, “The only thing the crab added was cost.”

Our last meal was at FIG, Food Is Good! We had a lovely appetizer made with rudderfish, perhaps like a grouper, made into a tartare. It was so simple and fresh. We both had a sautéed soft shell crab for the main course, with an heirloom tomato and arugula salad. Again, so simple, and yet, so fresh tasting.

I cannot wait to go back next year. The best part, I lost three pounds. So, you can eat well and lose weight!

My take on Husk’s Squash Soup! I’ve done this twice now and it is a winner.

Squash Soup with Sweet Corn

Serves 2

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

2 yellow medium squash and 1 medium zucchini, chopped

½ yellow onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

2 cups vegetable broth

½ cup fresh corn kernels

In a 4 quart saucepan, put the butter and olive oil. Turn heat to medium. Saute the onion and minced garlic for a minute. Add the chopped squash, vegetable broth, and cook covered, until soft, about 15 minutes.

Let cool. Purée in a blender. Pour soup back into pot and add the sweet corn. Cook for another five (5) minutes, so the corn gets somewhat tender. Pour into two bowls. Garnish with some greens, drizzle some olive oil and cream around the bowl. Delicious!

I made my fritter with cornmeal and onions. Fry, drain and add to the soup just before serving.

Here’s my take on Husk’s Fried Green Tomatoes with Pimento Cheese and Ham

Fried Green Tomatoes

Fry four (4) or more slices of bacon (preferably Benton’s) in a large heavy skillet. Remove and drain, leaving the hot grease. Slice several garden-fresh tomatoes, picked anywhere from gourd-green to ripe but firm, depending on your preference; making the slices about ½ inch thick, and allow three to four per person. Coat each slice in cornmeal seasoned with salt and pepper. Lift them gently with a fork or spatula into the hot grease and fry until the meal is brown and crusty, then turn and cook the other side. Additional grease may be needed. When the tomatoes are fried to a toasty crispness, drain on paper towels.

Pimento Cheese

Grate 1 pound sharp cheddar cheese. Add to this ¼ block softened cream cheese. To this add about 2 tablespoons mayonnaise, salt, pinch of cayenne pepper, 1 small jar of roasted red peppers, dash of Tabasco. Mix well. Chill before serving.

To plate: Put three (3) slices fried green tomatoes and 2 tablespoons of pimento cheese on the plate with a small slice of country ham (Spanish ham such as seranno or prosciutto would be good).