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“It’s a memory thing,” says Steve Chiappetti, chef-partner of J. Rocco Italian Table & Bar (749 N. Clark St., 312-475-0271), about squash. Chiappetti’s grandfather grew the gourds on his farm in western Illinois, and his mom cooked them a million different ways. He just about swoons recalling her purée with butter and cream. “It’s a very earthy type of fruit, and it has great seasonality. And versatility.” Case in point: Chiappetti’s delectable soup can keep you cool when Indian summer hits, or toasty warm on a crisp fall day.
Steve Chiappetti’s Squash and Fontina Soup
Yield: 8 servings
Prep time: 45 minutes
|4 lb.||Mixed squash (acorn, butternut, and yellow)|
|¼ cup||Olive oil|
|Salt and pepper to taste|
|4||Chicken bouillon cubes|
|¼ cup||Leeks, diced|
|½ cup||Heavy cream|
|Pumpkin seeds, toasted (optional garnish)|
1. Peel, deseed, and dice the squash. Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Sauté in a large skillet until the pieces are soft and lightly browned (10 to 12 minutes). Set aside.
2. Boil (or microwave) the bouillon cubes in 4 cups of water; stir until dissolved. Set aside.
3. Heat a little olive oil in a stockpot and add the leeks. Gently sauté until the leeks are translucent and soft. Add the bay leaves and the squash.
4. Pour the bouillon over the squash, stir, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and add the cream. Stir for one more minute and discard the bay leaves.
5. Transfer the mixture from the stockpot to a blender and blend until smooth. Return to the pot.
6. Over low heat, whisk in the cheese until it is fully incorporated. Serve hot or refrigerate overnight for a cold soup. Garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds.
TIP: If reheating the soup, use the microwave to avoid burning the cheese.