Hannah Palmer Egan
Bread, broth, squash, greens
Despite the mild weather, I've had soup on the brain lately — but not the thick, slow-cooked things I usually make at this time of year. Instead, I've been whipping up super-quick, small batches of liquid warmth based around the several quarts of turkey stock I made after Thanksgiving
I mentioned this in a post a few weeks ago
, so I won't go into much detail here, but (particularly in winter) I'm a huge advocate of keeping fresh stock on hand or in the freezer. It's so easy to make and such a boon in the kitchen! If making it isn't your thing, you can find some decent ones in the soup aisle at most grocers.
Last week, I threw together a sweet little stew with market kabocha squash (I can't remember the farm), some forgotten pac choy from the crisper and half a rock-hard baguette I had kicking around (reason No. 672 to keep stale bread). And it was the heartiest little 20-minute meal I've made in quite some time. It can also be vegan when made with veggie stock.
Squash bonus points (for another use): Toast the seeds on your stovetop!
Winter Squash and Bread Stew
- 1 1/2 cups kabocha squash, peeled and cut to a half-inch dice
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 medium shallot, minced
- Half a stale baguette, cut into 1- to 2-inch cubes
- 1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 2-3 cups stock
- 1 cup water, as needed
- 2 baby pac choy, halved, or 1 1/2 cups fresh greens, packed
- Fresh parsley or grated parmesan for garnish
- Peel and cut the vegetables to size and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Drizzle the cubed baguette with just a little extra-virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Place in a medium saucepan, cover with stock, stir well and allow to absorb.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet on high heat until it's blistering hot. Add the squash and alliums and immediately reduce heat to medium-low (the hot pan will give the veggies a subtle char, then cook them evenly as it cools down). Cook, turning occasionally, until the squash bits are fork-tender but still firm, about 10 minutes.
- Warm the bread-and-stock mixture over medium-high heat; add a little water if the bread has absorbed all the stock, but keep in mind that the bread will release some liquid as it warms. Add the greens and simmer until tender, 3-5 minutes. You want the bread to soften but not totally disintegrate. Taste and add more salt and pepper as needed.
- When you're ready to serve, place a few hunks of bread and greens into each bowl with a slotted spoon. Top with a heap of the squash mixture and pour broth over all (there won't be too much broth, so go easy at first). Garnish with fresh parsley and/or fresh-grated parmesan and serve hot!