Although most of us think Labor Day marks the close of summer, the season’s official end is still several weeks away. The markets and farmers’ stands are certainly still laden with late summer crops, tempting me to use that luscious produce imaginatively. As a result, I’ve been cooking like crazy, making soups, salads, and fruit crisps with my purchases.
One dish—a chilled yellow squash creation—has become a new favorite, and happens to be simplicity itself to prepare. Sautéed squash and onions are simmered in chicken stock, then pureed and enriched with creamy mascarpone. A hint of red pepper flakes adds a touch of heat, while a garnish of julienned basil provides a fragrant garnish.
I’ve served this soup several times to company in the past few days, and on each occasion guests have asked for seconds as well as the recipe. Offer it as a first course or as a lunch or light supper entree accompanied by a salad or sandwich.
This soup actually improves in flavor when made a day or two in advance. Oh, and if the weather turns crisp and cool, just serve this potage warm. It’s good that way too.
Chilled Yellow Squash Soup with Mascarpone
1 1/2 pounds yellow squash
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
4 cups reduced-sodium chicken stock
3/4 cup (6 ounces) mascarpone, divided
Scant 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons julienned basil plus 6 sprigs for garnish
Trim and discard the ends of the squash. Halve squash lengthwise (quarter the squash lengthwise if they are large), and then cut each half, crosswise, into 1/4-inch slices.
Heat the oil until hot in a large, heavy pot (with a lid) set over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté, stirring, until softened, for about 2 minutes. Add the squash, and stir and cook 2 minutes more. Add the stock and 1/2 teaspoon salt; bring mixture to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover the pot, and cook at a simmer until the vegetables are tender, for about 12 to 15 minutes. Cool, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
Puree the soup in a food processor, blender, or food mill, and return the soup to the pot. Or, use an immersion blender to puree the soup in the pot. Whisk the mascarpone in, a little at a time, until well blended.
Cool the soup to room temperature, then cover, and refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight. When chilled, season the soup with more salt and red pepper flakes if needed. Chilled soups often need extra seasoning to intensify their flavor. (The soup can be prepared 2 days ahead.)
Divide the soup evenly among 6 shallow bowls. Garnish the center of each serving with some julienned basil and a basil sprig. Serves 6.