Improv on a Soup
Sometimes things don’t go as planned. How I saved a soup that seemed hopeless.
It all started one day at lunch. It was a hot day, which is not news lately here in South Texas. We seem to be working to set all previous records for heat and days over 100, and it is only June!
We were at one of our favorite restaurants, Cappyccino’s, and the menu special included “Chilled Saffron and Yellow Squash Soup.” They had me at chilled!
It did not disappoint. In fact, it was very delicious. I got a cup of the soup along with their homemade chips and a half sandwich. But I wished that I had more of the soup! So much so that I was determined to make something similar.
It was a couple of weeks before everything aligned properly. I had to find a soup recipe that would be my starting point. And I needed to have the yellow squash. I decided to forgo the saffron, at least for the first attempts. Saffron is not cheap. It was good that I didn’t use saffron because things did not go according to my plan.
My Attempt at Chilled Yellow Squash Soup
I had never made a squash soup and especially not a chilled one. I have a ton of cookbooks, but too often find it easier to go to the internet. I found a couple of recipes for chilled yellow squash soup and decided to use these as my starting point.
The recipe called for 2 pounds of squash, which I had. And then for 2 quarts of liquid. That is 64 ounces. Also known as half a gallon. I should have known better. I've made puréed soups in the past and found that the secret to them is in getting the right amount of liquid. Just enough, but not too much. Too much is always a bad idea!
That ratio of vegetables to liquid is what makes a good puréed soup. I KNEW this. And when I was looking at the recipe I questioned the quantity. But I decided to trust the recipes. After all, I had 2 recipes suggesting the same amount of liquid.
Isn’t Hindsight Great?
It turns out that was a big mistake. That was something I discovered when it was far too late. I’ve encountered quite a few online recipes that did not measure up. Most often they give times that are impossible. I’m not sure why or how they do that. Other times, they’ll leave out information about an ingredient. You’ll get to a step that says “Add in the garlic” yet that was the only mention of garlic. How much? How cut? Why didn’t you tell me this up front so I could have garlic on hand?
That’s the way of many recipes, especially online. I try to be considerate, I’m not perfect myself.
Even so, I still get pulled into a recipe that doesn’t work out.
Back to the Soup
Once the squash is cooked soft, the recipes called for using a stick blender to 'purée' the soup. That's when I knew it wasn't going to work. There was so much liquid that the consistency was almost like water. Not what I was hoping for. I wanted a soup with some body to it. Something that would round up on the spoon. This was not it.
I put it in jars and chilled it. And we had some with our lunch the next day. It tasted "okay" but that was as good as it got.
WHAT TO DO NOW?
I hate to waste food. But this "soup" was not going to be eaten in its current form. That's when I got the idea of using it as the base for another soup.
Enter Chicken, Carrot, Garbanzo & Squash Soup
That's what I wound up with. A weird combination, I agree. But I was working with what I already had on hand for this rescue mission.
I started with about a pound of chicken. Cut it up in tiny pieces. Cooked it in the soup pot, in olive oil, until it started to brown. Then I added the original squash soup and a half pound of sliced carrots.
It seemed like it needed more, so I scrounged in the pantry and found a can of garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas). Honestly, I'm not sure why they were even in my pantry. I probably, long ago, thought of making hummus since that's the only use I've really ever found for garbanzo beans. I threw them in the pot and cooked it for 20 to 30 minutes.
Not bad. It was definitely edible. And filling. And even healthy. Though hot soup for lunch when the outside temperature is approaching 100 wasn’t my first choice!
The cheese on top made it a bit better:
Will I make it again? Doubtful. It’s a good soup, but a convoluted way to make a soup!
What about that chilled yellow squash soup, though?
I will make another attempt at that soon. It was so good I would love to have a version to add to my repertoire!
I have a couple of ideas for the next attempt. Obviously, I will use much less liquid. And I'll cook the squash a bit less, so it's not super soft. And, I think that it definitely needed some dairy in it. To stiffen it and also to enhance the color. I do like the color of the original chilled soup. My squash soup was not pretty at all. The color was similar to the finished product of its reinvention.
‘Til next week. Oh, I think that Ratatouille may be making its debut next week. You do not want to miss that!