butternut squash soup with barley, chestnuts and ricotta quenelles
minestra di orzo, castagne e zucca
TOTAL TIME: 60 minutes
MAKES: 4 servings
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
- 3 cups 1/4-inch dice butternut squash (from a 1 1/3-pound squash)
- 1 cup pearled barley
- 4 thyme sprigs plus 1 teaspoon finely chopped thyme
- 1 cup peeled roasted chestnuts (½ pound in shell) or jarred chestnuts
- 5 cups vegetable broth
- Fine sea salt
- 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup fresh whole milk ricotta cheese
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano cheese plus more for sprinkling
In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat; add shallot and cook, stirring frequently, 2 minutes. Add squash, barley, thyme sprigs, chestnuts, vegetable broth and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a gentle simmer, cover and cook over low heat until barley is tender, about 40 minutes. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.
Heat oven to 400º with rack in middle.
In a medium saucepan, heat flour and butter over medium heat, stirring constantly, until combined. Add milk and generous pinch salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly until mixture becomes very thick and forms a loose ball, 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add ricotta, 2 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano and chopped thyme. Stir well to combine.
Butter a small baking dish. Using 2 soup spoons, shape mixture into 12 quenelles, dropping quenelles into prepared dish as you go. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano and bake until cheese is melted, about 6 minutes.
Serve soup with quenelles and a sprinkling of Parmigiano-Reggiano.
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