Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Bob's Your Uncle!

We're all friends here, right?

Would anyone be willing to start a support group with me? The "Entirely Smitten with Jamie Oliver" support group? I liked him plenty before, when he was naked or motivating troubled youth or tromping through Italy... but I especially adore him at home. (And that Gennaro?? Can we have a sub-group for him?!?!) For both Jamie and Gennaro, I am done-in by their real-person-ness. As I watch Jamie at Home, I feel like I'm there, hanging out with him while he cooks. He doesn't put on a yum-face when he tastes something, he admits when it isn't quite right and how to fix it, he slops ingredients around... his kitchen is one I long to be in and one I long to have as my very own.

Something else I like - watching him prepare this particular soup, he used a pressure cooker. Now, I don't have one, but want one someday. The recipe he provides, however, assumes you don't have one - which is nice. No weird complicated math pressure/volume/time calculations needed. That Jamie, totally thoughtful.

I wasn't sure that this version of butternut squash soup could live up to the delicious wonder that is my friend Liane's butternut soup, but it surprised me. Jamie's soup is thick and luscious and is just delightful over the Parmesan toasts (and packs a dainty but noticeable heat). I particularly like how moist and sloppy the toast becomes. I had a bit of a struggle making the them. I couldn't get the Parmesan to stick nicely to the bread and then they smoked a bit as they heated up. Of course, I wasn't thinking about it when I dished it out, but a clear bowl made for a funny presentation. Doesn't it look like the soup is just floating there?

It's been a while since I've been so excited about a new cooking show. I hope Food Network schedules Jamie at Home for a good long while. Jamie Oliver has a lot he can teach to home cooks. Personally, I'm going to try to work "Bob's your uncle!" into my day-to-day conversations.

Superb Squash Soup with the Best Parmesan Croutons
c/o Jamie Oliver, Jamie at Home on,1977,FOOD_9936_105309,00.html

This fantastic soup is best made with varieties of squash that have dense, orange flesh, such as butternut or onion squash. It's important to use good chicken stock and season the soup well to bring out the nutty, sweet flavor of the squash. Once you've mastered this recipe, you can take the soup in different ways by adding pearl barley, dried pasta, or some chopped bacon. Even the smallest amount of dried porcini. P.S. I made this in my pressure cooker the other day, with really great results - it's so quick!

Olive oil
16 fresh sage leaves
2 red onions, peeled and chopped
2 sticks celery, trimmed and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves picked
1/2 fresh red chile, to taste, seeded and finely chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 1/4 pounds butternut squash, onion squash, or musque de Provence, halved, deseeded and cut into chunks
2 quarts good-quality Chicken or vegetable stock
Extra-virgin olive oil

For the croutons:
Extra-virgin olive oil
16 slices ciabatta bread
1 chunk Parmesan, for grating

Put a very large saucepan on a medium heat and pour in a couple of glugs of olive oil.
Add the sage leaves and fry for around 30 seconds or until dark green and crisp. Quickly remove them with a slotted spoon to a bowl lined with paper towels - you'll use these for sprinkling over at the end. In the pan you'll be left with a beautifully flavored oil, so put it back on the heat and throw in your onion, celery, carrot, garlic, rosemary leaves, chile and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Cook gently for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are sweet and soft. Add the squash and the stock to the pan, bring to the boil and simmer for around 30 minutes.

While the soup is cooking, make your croutons. Drizzle a little olive oil over the ciabatta slices, and press some grated Parmesan onto each side. Place in a non-stick pan without any oil and fry until golden on both sides.

When the squash is soft and cooked through, whiz the soup with an immersion blender or pour it into a standard blender and pulse until you have a smooth puree* (but you can leave it slightly chunky if you like). Most importantly, remember to taste and season it until it's perfect. Divide the soup between your bowls, placing 2 croutons on top of each. Sprinkle with a few of your crispy sage leaves and drizzle with a swirl of good-quality extra-virgin olive oil.

*When blending hot liquids: Remove liquid from the heat and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes. Transfer liquid to a blender or food processor and fill it no more than halfway. If using a blender, release one corner of the lid. This prevents the vacuum effect that creates heat explosions. Place a towel over the top of the machine, pulse a few times then process on high speed until smooth.


White On Rice Couple said...

Count us in on this support group! We like Jamie lots! He is so real, down to earth and a great chef. We look forward to watching his new show too!

sher said...

I also love Jamie! And this soup looks delicious. I'm a crouton believer too. :)

Deborah said...

I haven't watched his show on FN yet. I saw an episode on BBC once, but it was pretty old. I do have one of his cookbooks, and I loved it! This soup sounds great - and I just happen to have a butternut squash at home. I'm actually going to be making the Mexican chicken you just posted about tonight - I looked through my cabinets/fridge/freezer at lunch and I have everything for it at home!!

Pam said...

I watched this show too, and the soup sounded so good! On the show is he cooking in his house? It sort of looks like a cabin, doesn't it?

Katie B. said...

Yay! Go Team Jamie!

Deborah - Let me know how you liked it! Not like I came up with it, but I always like to know if others have similar experiences with the same recipe (part of why I like the DBers so much!)

Pam - I don't know if they shoot it at his real home, but it certainly looks like a cabin or farmhouse of some kind. Though, it seems like he's in a different cooking area epi-to-epi, it must have a TON of kitchens!

Connie said...

Your soup looks great in the clear bowl. I would also like to join the Support Group please!

I DVR'd the episode and then DH came home with a new DVR and some other electronic gizmos. As I type he is hooking up the old DVR to the spare TV so that I can watch it.

Can't wait to see it. And Bob is actually my DAD! LOL!

LisaRene said...

I have just recently became aware of Jamie and do like him a lot. Did you see him in Iron Chef? Gennaro was there as well and a riot!

I lived in England for 2 years and found myself using some of the slang. The one that stuck with me is "No worries". It would be fun to hear Americans start saying "Bob's your uncle".

Kitty said...

I am a HUGE jamie forgot to mention that he's also ridiculously cute!

BTW: I hear that they film the show at his actual Italian villa.