Monday, May 9, 2016

How to Make a Thick Soup of Squash

From Bartolomeo Scappi's Opera, 1570, translated by Terence Scully:

To prepare a thick soup of common squash during Lent.

Take a squash, scrape it and dice it. Put some finely chopped onions with it and put them into an earthenware or copper pot with oil and no water. Sauté them gently, stirring, because they will produce water on their own. When they have reduced, add in enough water to cover them by two fingers, along with pepper, cinnamon, saffron, and enough salt. Boil that. When it is almost cooked, put in gooseberries or verjuice grapes, and beaten fine herbs; finish cooking it. Serve it in dishes with pepper and cinnamon over top. With that squash you can cook pieces of tench or large pike.

You can do bryony the same way, although it would be better to parboil them before sautéing them. On days that are not fasting days you can use butter instead of oil and thicken it with beaten eggs.

My Redaction:

2 zucchini
2 summer squash
1 lg onion, diced
2 T butter
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
4-5 threads saffron
3 eggs, beaten
1/4 C verjuice
A dozen green grapes, chopped

Peel and dice the squashes. Sauté them along with the onion and spices until they have softened. Just barely cover with water and boil until the soup has reduced and thickened. Mix in grapes and verjuice, and allow to reduce again briefly. Remove from heat and let cool for 1 minute, then quickly mix in beaten eggs.

Matching old-world squash types can be tricky, but somewhere between the two kinds I've used here should approximate Scappi's "common" squash. Verjuice grapes are difficult to get ahold of, but verjuice can be purchased from middle eastern food stores, often even labelled as such, so I have compromised by mixing it with not-yet-turned grapes.

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