Thursday, November 15, 2012

Soup's on

The best eating opportunity in town yesterday --- for both carnivores and vegetarians --- was the annual Soup and Bread Taste Fair at Carpenters Hall, sponsored by Lucas County Health Center Volunteer Services.

Although Volunteer Services operates under the hospital's umbrella, the program headed by Linda Baynes coordinates volunteer efforts for non-profits throughout the county and this is one of its major fund-raisers.

Over the lunch hour, during the dinner hour or both, you lay down your $6 and in return receive a big plate and three small bowls, plus spoons. Ranged around the big room at Carpenters Hall Tuesday were nine tables, each backed by volunteers from various organizations and each offering a variety of homemade soup plus bread or crackers. A cup of ice cream was available for dessert. Drinks, too, of course.

You're were welcome to sample all the soups, making multiple trips, but most of us were full after six so it was important to prioritize. The soups were accompanied by breads that ranged from plain crackers through homemade rolls and corn bread to a memorable jalapeno bread. Three of the selections were vegetarian, notable in an area that is overwhelming carnivorous.

That's Linda Baynes up top, prepared to serve her butternut squash soup with herbed croutons and fresh thyme. When I asked why the roaster that was keeping the soup hot was lined with carefully sanitized plastic, she said, "I've cleaned too many roasters." Linda has made a lot of soup over the years. This variety is wonderful. Here's the recipe:


3 pounds unpeeled butternut squash, cut and seeded
2 large onions, peeled and quartered
1 small head garlic
fourth cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh thyme
3 to 3 and a half cups vegetable stock
half cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons minced parsley
half teaspoon salt
quarter teaspoon pepper

Place squash, onions and garlic on baking sheet, brush generously with olive oil and top with thyme. Cover with foil and bake for 1 to 2 hours depending on the size of the squash at 350 degrees. Cool, peel, seed and puree the squash plus oinions and garlic with the stock and heavy cream. Add parsley, salt and peer, then heat through --- but do not boil. Garnish with thyme sprigs and serve with croutons.

Fred Steinbach made the lentil soup served up at the Chariton Chamber/Main Street table, accompanied by fresh rolls, prepared by the staff at Northridge Assisted Living. Fred is serving the soup here and Kris Patrick, Main Street coordinator, coordinating the bread end of things. Here's Fred's recipe, which I've sampled several times:


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
half cup finely chopped carrot
half cup finely chopped celery
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 pound lentils, picked and rinsed
1 cup peeled and chopped tomatoes
2 quarts vetetable broth (or chicken broth)
half teaspoon ground coriander
half teaspoon ground toasted cumin
half teaspoon ground grains of paradise

Place the olive oil into a six-quart dutch oven and set over medium heat. Once hot, add onion, carrot, celery and salt and sweat until the onions are translucent, about six or seven minutes. Add the lentils, tomatoes, broth and spices, then stir to combine. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and cook at a low simmer until the lentils are tender, about 35 to 40 minutes. Puree to preferred consistency using a stick blender.

Other varieties of soup available Tuesday were vegetarian chili, vegetable-beef, cheesy broccoli, ham and bean, chili, tortilla and Wisconsin cheese.

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