On Ina Garten, Bourge-Me-Nots, and Squash Soup

13 Sep

Bourge-me-not: (n.) The condition of simultaneously wishing to be more bourgeois, and knowing you will never be bourgeois enough.

This is a rather uncomfortable feeling for one who tends to pride herself on frugality, and a sort of ‘whatever’s in the fridge/at the garage sale’ mentality.  And then, Ina says, on page eleven of barefoot contessa at home:

“I want [my husband] to feel that he’s really home. What he doesn’t realize is that what feels very casual is, in fact, quite deliberate: the music is playing, all the lights are on, there are flowers everywhere, and chicken and onions are roasting in the oven.”

Watch as my frugality leaps dramatically into the gutter.  I begin to imagine throwing lavish dinner parties, creating Home, complete with candlescapes and potpourri and, well, sure, chicken smells and stuff.  Plushy sofas.  Fancy soaps and lotions by the tub.  I could go on.

But, seriously, who actually lives like that?

Cookbooks are some of the worst (or the best) of the bourge-peddlers.  The idea of a home-cooked meal seems to invite other fantasies that this feminist, for one, took pains in college to eschew.  For example, in Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins’ Silver Palate Cook Book (25th anniversary edition), which I received as a very welcome birthday gift from my mother, the editors express:

There’s something about those final moments of preparing for the week ahead that calls for the comfort of a Sunday night soup supper.  A soup meal – crusty warm bread, a cheese board, green salad, dessert mousse, and, of course, your own soup du jour – can be enjoyed in front of a roaring fire or at a candlelit table…

So, okay, I can play along with this Sunday night idea.  Sunday nights, at least for the Mon-Fri crowd, can be a frustrating time in the week. You likely feel well-rested and invigorated in a way you never feel on a Tuesday, for example.  Tomorrow being Monday, however, you can’t very well invite people over or go out.

So, what do you do?  Make soup, of course!  And, while you’re at it, could you run to Whole Foods and pick out four fancy chee$e$. Oh! and lets open that 2000 Burgundy we’ve got $itting in the basement! And, since our Home is already clean and inviting, lets really put the icing on the proverbial cake and go ahead and build a fire in that fire place.  By the way, would you mind picking up some Grand Marnier while you’re out?  I’m in the mood for DE$$ERT MOU$$E!?!

No expense spared.

Sounds great, doesn’t it?

Not to wholly belittle the joys of home-making.  When we moved into our new Ontario home, Nina and I spent the first three weeks discussing things like where to put the paintings and carpets we moved with, and how we were going to be able to afford cage-free eggs when they sell for $6.50 at the supermarket. For us eggs in the morning and wall decor make us feel at home.


Sunday Soup at Bec n' Nina's looks like this (note the bowls: licked clean)

On $10.25/hr. plus Nina’s grad stipend, we’re not looking at cheese boards and fireplaces (we are, however, looking at over 100 apples from when we went overboard at the you-pick orchard!).  Reading Garten or Rosso & Lukins, though, I begin to feel like cheese logs and fireplaces are my birthright, my dream.  As though I don’t have enough on my plate worrying about my own dreams and ambitions without adding a heaping cup of the bourgeois fantasy.

Maybe a heaping tablespoon, though: the soup is, after all, delicious.

Today’s brunch recipe is in honor of those days when you want to pretend to be a fancy lady and supp soup.

This is also, according to Rosso & Lukins, a great first course to a fancy lady brunch: “We love a light and cordial beginning to a meal, a real first course above and beyond cocktail fare; one of the best is soup.”

Curried Apple Squash Soup

apple squash soup is great with or without a dollop of sour cream

This recipe is adapted from Rosso & Lukins’ recipe in the aforementioned cookbook, but I had such fresh and flavorful apples that I opted not to add the cup of apple juice at the end, as they recommend.

1. Dice a medium-sized onion and throw into a pot with several teaspoons (maybe five?) of sweet curry powder and 4 Tbsp. of butter.  Cook on low until the onions are clear, about 20 minutes.

cooking onions slowly over low heat helps draw out the sugars

2. Peel and cube two apples and one acorn or butternut squash.

cut root veggies into cubes to help them cook faster

3. Once the onions are cooked, add three cups of chicken stock, or bouillon – whatever works for you – and add the apples and squash.  Bring to a boil, then turn down and simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until the squash is very tender.

apples and squash getting soft and flavorful in the curried broth

4. Strain the broth into a bowl, leaving the solids in the sieve but retaining the liquid.  Using a food processor or a fork or a masher or whatever, attempt to puree the squash-apple mixture (some chunks are fine – imagine you’re mashing potatoes…or maybe you have a food processor).

5. Put the puree-ish squash and apples back in the pot with the strained liquid.  Add another cup of chicken broth/bouillon.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer for a few minutes to cook through.

6. Serve.  We added a dollop of a fresh German cheese Nina’s fond of called Quark.  It’s a bit like sour cream, which would also make a delicious garnish.  The soup is delicious on its own, too, though.

Three apples down: 117 apples to go

This food blogger was too tired/broke to make DE$$ERT MOU$$E, so Nina settled (happily) for a storebought truffle.


One Response to “On Ina Garten, Bourge-Me-Nots, and Squash Soup”

  1. Emily September 16, 2010 at 12:23 pm #

    I just had an image flash through my mind of when there were 3 garbage bags of tomatoes in our kitchen 🙂
    Also, this reminds me to send you the apple crisp recipe.

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