What’s For Dinner?
Two Squash Soup
(First star is lowest, fourth star is highest)
IN THE KITCHEN WITH ... MICHAEL FORD, DUNWOODY
Two Squash Soup
Nominated by Rhea Haugseth: "Mike Ford is a true Renaissance man. He cooks, cleans, has a profession, remodels and even restored a boat. He renovated his kitchen with his love of cooking in mind. Every Thanksgiving, he has family and strays (those of us without family here) over to enjoy another of his sumptuous feasts. He even made a table that seats 18 just for these occasions. He makes delicious soups and fantastic smoked turkey. One year, he made one of the best creme brulees I've ever tasted."
Attorney Michael Ford's love affair with food has gone from one extreme to another.
Raised in Macon by his grandmother, his first exposure to cooking was in a traditional Southern kitchen filled with collards, turnips, steaming blackberry cobbler, canned peaches and dark fruitcake.
At 18, his culinary world was turned upside down when he joined his father, the European director of Martin Missile Corp., in France. Overseas, Ford was exposed to some of the finest in gourmet cuisine, from dining at the Rib Room in London to chicken Kiev, beef stroganoff and curry dishes prepared by his stepmother.
After traveling throughout Europe with his father, Ford found himself in an Army uniform, first at Pleiku in the central highlands of Vietnam, then at Tuy Hoa on the coast. When cases of chicken would arrive for the soldiers, Ford would set up a makeshift grill and cook up an out-of-the-ordinary treat for his comrades. "I would do the chicken, they would do the beer, " he says with a laugh.
Today, he likes to wind down from his demanding law practice by heading to the kitchen, where he prepares meals for his family --- son Taylor, 20, a junior at the University of Georgia, and wife Joanne, a retired computer analyst --- and friends.
Hands on time: 30 minutes Total time: 2 hours and 15 minutes Serves: 6
2 squashes, one acorn and one butternut, 4 to 4 1/2 pounds total
1/4 cup ( 1/2 stick) plus 4 teaspoons butter
4 tablespoons molasses
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups chopped sweet onion
5 to 6 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
Zest from 1 lime
Juice from 1 lime
1 cup thick cream
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon pepper, to taste
1/4 teaspoon salt, to taste
For the garnish:
6 tablespoons sour cream
3 thin slices lime, cut in half
2 green onion stems, finely chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
Freshly ground pepper
Bake squash at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes or until tender. When the squash are tender, carefully remove the pan from the oven, being careful to save any liquid in the center of each squash. Set aside to cool. When the squash have cooled to the point that they are comfortable to handle, carefully remove each squash half from the pan and pour any liquid from the center of the squash into a large bowl. Then scoop out the pulp from each squash half, discarding skins. Chop the pulp and add to the bowl with the liquid from the center of each squash.
Melt 1/4 cup butter in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat; add the onion and lightly salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until tender. Add the chicken broth, wine and pulp. Bring to a boil and simmer 10 to 15 minutes to make sure pulp and onion are tender. Add the lime zest and juice.
If using an immersion blender, use it to blend the soup until smooth while hot and in the Dutch oven. If using an electric blender, allow the soup to cool until warm. Then process the soup in batches based on the size of the blender. When the soup is blended smoothly, return to the Dutch oven and add the cool cream. Cook the soup over low heat, stirring constantly, until thoroughly heated. Taste and adjust seasonings. The soup should be creamy and thick. If too thick, add additional chicken broth (or wine).
Ladle hot soup into heated soup bowls. Float 1 tablespoon sour cream in the center of each bowl and stand one of the lime slice halves in the sour cream. Sprinkle the soup with finely chopped green onion and red bell pepper. Add freshly ground pepper to taste.
For the soup: