04 November 2006

Dahling, you simply MUST get a microplane grater.

Roasted Acorn Squash Soup with Parmesan Crisp And Toasted Squash Seeds

I got one!
I am so happpppeeeeeeeeeee!

If you have never used a microplane grater, then you have never experienced the magic of effortlessly transforming a hard chunk of parmesan into a billowy cloud of wispy curls that is four times the size of the original piece of cheese.



If you have used a microplane grater before, you are thinking, “Oh, isn’t she cute. Yes, I remember my first time using a microplane grater. I was so young and stupid then. But now I am experienced and wise.”

For years I had meaning to buy a microplane grater, but every time I saw one, I decided there was something else that I needed more.
On my ongoing list titled "Things-That-I-Really-Want-To-Buy-But-That-Are-
Not-Essential-To-My-Happiness," a microplane grater was between a salad spinner and a fat separator.

I was so young and stupid then. But now I have a microplane grater, and now I am experienced and wise, and also happy. And now I can make parmesan crisps in the blink of an eye.


And assuming I still have an acorn squash sitting on my counter from a trip to the farmer’s market more than a month ago, I can make acorn squash soup with parmesan crisps in 10,800 blinks of an eye. That’s assuming it takes an hour for the soup to cook, and you blink three times per second. Hmmmm….I just tried that for about twenty seconds but now my eyelids hurt. I will re-compute. Blinking twice per second for an hour is a more practical pace and it comes out to 7,200 blinks of an eye.

Acorn Squash Soup with Parmesan Crisps in 7,200 Blinks of an Eye
For the soup:
1 acorn squash
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 small onion, chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
2 cups vegetable broth (or more if you prefer a thinner consistency)
¼ orange juice
¼ cup half & half or milk or a combination of both

For the parmesan crisps:
½ cup parmesan cheese, grated with your handy-dandy microplane grater

For the Sweet and Spicy Toasted Squash Seeds
(technique and recipe adapted from Heidi at 101 Cookbooks)
1 egg white
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon brown suger
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Prepare the squash:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Cut open acorn squash and scrape out seeds. Reserve seeds.
Place squash halves on baking sheet, cut sides up.
Spread butter on squash and sprinkle with salt.
Bake for 45 minutes, until flesh is browning on top and can be easily pierced with a fork.
When squash is done, raise the temperature of the oven to 400 degrees F for the crisps.

While the squash is roasting, prepare the seeds….
Rinse seeds and dry on a paper towel.
Whisk egg white and stir in spices.
Add seeds to egg mixture and stir well.
Drain extra egg whites and spread seeds on a baking shee lined with parchment paper.
Bake in oven for 12 – 15 minutes (you can bake the seeds while the squash is roasting).

While the seeds are roasting, prepare the soup….
Sauté onions over medium high heat until softened.
Add carrot and cook for three minutes.
Add broth and cook for 15-20 minutes, until carrots are soft.
Pour broth mixture into blender.
When the squash is ready, scrape the flesh into the blender.
Add the orange juice and the half & half.
Blend until creamy.
If the soup is too thick, add more broth or milk as needed.
Season to taste.

And now, for the parmesan crips...
Raise the temperature of the oven to 400 degrees F.
Spoon heaping tablespoons of grated parmesan onto a baking sheet (about 3 inches apart). Success is guaranteed if you use a silicone mat (I love my SILPAT).
Bake for 3-5 minutes until cheese is golden and crispy. Do not let the cheese become too brown, or the flavor is overpowering.

Amost done….
Ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle with toasted seeds. Garnish with a parmesan crisp.


Rachel said...

that's amazing cheese volume!

Helen said...

What an awesome recipe and as always I am completely smitten by the quality of your photography.
Great post!

Aoife said...

Congratulations. My microplane grater changed my life.

Kate said...

I am a total gadget junkie and a microplane was a no-brainer, but now I have three different microplanes! Yikes, I know.....I am a gadget nerd! You should see my kitchen drawers....crammed to the hilt with all kinds of cool tools.

Cherry said...

Weeee Microplanes!
I also have 3, and I love them.

J said...

I love my microplaner...is it wrong of me that I use it to zest lemons and oranges as well as grating my cheese?

Erielle said...

Rachel, isn't it? I can't wait until I need to grate a HUGE chunk of cheese!

Helen, thank you so much!

Aoife, thanks. I have huge excpectations for my life now that I own a microplane grater. Things can only go up from here!

Kate, three different ones? You are rocking my world. I must learn more.

Cherry, you too! I feel so naive, so inexperienced, in my microlane knowledge and usage.

J, I see chefs on TV using microplane graters for lemon zest all the time. Ginger, too. Grate away!

Alanna said...

I loved my first microplane (a fine one like yours) just as much ... but not as much as I love the second one (a ribbon grater for chocolate and Parmesan and ... and ...).

Great photos ...

Mae said...

Great post! *still laughing!*

Seriously, i really need one of those microplane thingy! I've just realised, my life is incomplete! :)

aria said...

ooh i craving squash so bad now! i love how the microplanes grate parm into a fluffy cloud too!!

Erielle said...

AK, a ribbon grater sounds like a necessity. That is next on my list.

Thanks Mae, and yes, you need one! You will use it all the time!

Aria, isn't squash grand? Yes, the puffy clouds are so incredible. I just can't get over it.

Lisa said...

That all looks fantastic! I adore my microplane grater -- right with you on that one! I must try those CRISPS. Those look amazing. Maybe this is the time to get a SILPAT. :)

Lisa said...

P.S. The crisps looked so good that I went upstairs and made them immediately -- and it was only 7:00 a.m.! I had a hunk of nice parmesan in the fridge, and I was getting hungry for breakfast, so.... I put up a post about it, linking to your post/site...thanks for the inspiration. Yum.

Gel said...

Beautiful!! I love the 'before' and 'after' shots .. what a great idea!!!

Microplane Grater said...

I personally have owned a zester for quite some time and new this would make a wonderful gift to a friend who loves to cook! Excellent quality and it even comes with a sleeve to protect it while in your drawer!