Sunday, July 22, 2007
Pattypan, Basil, & Chevre Soup
Pattypan take their name from the pâtisson, a Provençal cake that’s baked in a fluted mold and mirrors the scalloped shape of the vegetable. And the squash's flavor is actually lightly sweet – a characteristic you can enhance with roasting or a quick sauté. Plus the moisture content is low compared to, say, zucchini, so they can take quite a bit of abuse without turning pulpy or watery.
Yuno’s Farm has such lovely pattypan in the warmer months: plump, round, and striped green, creamy white, or butter-yellow. And, yes, I’ve been shopping at Yuno’s a lot lately – their market stand is irresistible this time of year. I must admit a certain feeling of allegiance to Nevia there, as she was also a professional dancer before going into the food industry. But I assure you I am consistently blown away by the beauty, variety, and quality of the produce her farm brings to market.
In this soup – which is at its most balanced and summery when served slightly less than piping hot – the pattypan lend their gentle sweetness to the blunt anise of the basil (more of a main player here than a seasoning), and the earthy twang of the goat’s cheese stays subtle as it binds the whole thing together.
Just make sure not to add the basil paste until you’re ready to serve. The heat of the soup will dull the cooling jade color, which is too pretty to let your guests miss.
Serves 6 – 8
3 lbs green pattypan or other green summer squash
extra virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, medium dice
5 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
1 ½ cups good chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup dry white wine
2 bay leaves, fresh if possible
freshly ground black pepper
6 oz fresh chevre, plus more for serving, crumbled
juice of 1 lemon
1 large or 2 smaller bunches basil, plus a few extra sprigs for serving
1 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
Rinse the pattypan and trim off both ends. Slice in half (straight though the center into 2 half-moons, if you catch my drift). Then slice up each squash half quite thinly.
Heat a large pot over medium high heat. Add a glug of extra virgin olive oil and then toss in the onions. Sprinkle with a little kosher salt and sweat, stirring often, until they turn translucent. Add the garlic cloves and stir gently for 1 minute longer. Then stir in the sliced pattypan and cook, stirring every so often for 5 minutes or until a few of the squash pieces are lightly golden.
Add the stock, the wine, the bay leaves, some more kosher salt, and a good grind of black pepper. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, cover, and cook for 20 minutes until the squash is soft. Then remove from the heat and pour through a sieve over a large bowl. Purée the vegetables and chevre in a food processor and pour back into the pot. Add cooking liquid until the desired consistency is reached and season with the lemon juice and more salt and pepper. The soup should be held at this point until you’re almost ready to serve.
Just before serving, pulse the basil in a food processor until finely chopped. Stream in the 1 cup of olive oil until a paste is formed. Heat the pattypan soup until the temperature is midway between lukewarm and piping hot and then stir in the basil paste. Check the seasoning again with salt and pepper if necessary.
Serve in bowls with more crumbled chevre, a small basil sprig, and a good drizzle of the olive oil.