ZUPPA DI ZUCCHE MISTE (Mixed Squash Soup)
1 Sm. Acorn squash 1 Sm. Butternut squash 1 Sm. Zucchini squash 1 Sm. Hubbard squash 2 Lg. Onions, white 1 Lg. Garlic, complete head 1 Clove Garlic 2 Cups Mushrooms: Portobello or Shitake 2 Cups Tomato puree - fresh made or canned 1/2 Tsp. Cardamom 1/4 Tsp. Nutmeg 1/2 Tsp. Thyme - fresh
PREPARING THE MUSHROOMS, SQUASH, ONION, GARLIC & TOMATOES
If using dry mushrooms, soak for 45-60 minutes. Before using squeeze out the water and chop into 1/2 inch pieces. (If possible use fresh mushrooms as these are much more flavorful. )
Pierce the acorn, butternut, and Hubbard squash with a fork a few times and place in a baking pan along with one onion and the garlic head. Bake at 300 ° for 30 minutes. Let cool, peel all of the squash and cut into 1 inch pieces. Peel the garlic and the onion and cut into quarters.
Peel the Zucchini and cut into 1 inch pieces. Dice the raw onion.
The tomato puree can be made from canned tomatoes or fresh tomatoes. If using canned tomatoes, discard the water in the can and process the tomatoes until pureed. Add pepper to taste. Salt should not be needed unless using a brand of unsalted canned tomatoes. Set aside for later use.
Alternatively, two pounds of fresh tomatoes can be used to make a fresh puree. Halve the tomatoes, add them to a pot and cook over low heat for 2 hours, letting the sauce reduce by half. At the end of this time, add salt and pepper to taste. Pass the tomatoes mixture through the smallest holes of a food mill. Set aside for later use.
PREPARING THE SOUP
Add all of squash, the baked onion as well as 3/4 of the raw onions, the mushrooms and the baked garlic to a soup pot. Add 1 cup of water. And a cup of the tomato puree. Cook the mixture over low heat until all the vegetables are soft and begin to break apart when stirred. The soup does not need tending other than to stir occasionally. After approximately 2 hours, add the cardamom, and cook for another 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and let cool until the mixture can be pureed.
Puree in a food processor until the mixture is as smooth as possible. The soup will be very thick at this point. If necessary add small amounts of water to make the processing a bit easier.
Once all of the soup is pureed, pass it through a food mill. At this point the mixture should be velvety smooth, and flecked with very small mushroom bits.
SERVING THE SOUP
Depending upon the size of the squash used, the resultant soup may serve from 4 to 8 people. The amounts below provide four ample servings.
Prior to serving, place 6 cups of the soup into a pot. Add 1 1/2 cups of water, the ground nutmeg, the thyme, the remaining diced onion and 1 diced garlic clove. Heat for 35-45 minutes over medium low heat. If desired, a half cup of white wine may also be added.
After the soup is hot, ladle it into each bowl. Carefully place 2 Tablespoons of the tomato puree on top of the soup. Gently run a kitchen knife through the tomato puree in an S shape. This not only makes a great presentation, but enhances the flavor of the entire dish.