Last week of work before Christmas, here we start to deal with dinners to exchange greetings with colleagues, friends from elementary school, high school and college, family friends, close and less close relatives, new acquaintances and happy hours under the Christmas tree. This is the reason I’m presenting you a recipe to face this social life alarm: the idea is to have a light meal with a festive character and the subtle scent of the upcoming Christmas.
I really like the two cooking methods I used to make this dish. Baking the butternut squash with a bunch of spices before making the soup not only makes the house smell good, but brings out the flavours, enhances and enriches every aroma. The chicken meatballs are boiled in the vegetable stock, instead of being fried or baked. This keeps them soft, delicate, with a hint of orange that recalls the butternut soup.
Butternut squash cream ingredients:
- butternut squash, 1 small of about 1 kg
- extra virgin olive oil
- Maldon salt
- fresh ginger, a piece of about 3 cm
- fresh chilli pepper, 1 or 2 according to your taste
- cumin, 1 teaspoon
- grated zest of 1 orange
- vegetable stock
Preheat oven to 180°C. Wash the butternut squash. If it has a thin skin, you can avoid to peel the squash, cut it into thin slices and place them in a large baking dish, previously oiled. Season the squash with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, flakes of Maldon salt, a bit of fresh grated ginger, finely sliced chilli pepper, cumin and a tablespoon of grated orange peel. Bake for about 30 minutes until the butternut squash is soft and the house smells good.
Remove the squash from the oven, put it in a saucepan and cover with hot vegetable stock. Let it simmer for about 5 minutes then process with a hand blender until smooth and creamy. Taste it and season with salt. Set aside.
Chicken meatballs ingredients:
- chicken thighs, 3
- Bologna sausage, one piece of about 100 g
- egg, 1
- grated Parmesan cheese, 3 tablespoons
- grated zest of 1 orange
- breadcrumbs, a few tablespoons
- vegetable stock, about 1 liter
Put in a blender cup chicken meat without fat, cut into small pieces, and diced mortadella. Blend until you get ground meat. Add 1 egg, grated Parmesan cheese, grated orange peel and 3 to 4 tablespoons of breadcrumbs. Season with salt. Shape into small meatballs, not bigger than a walnut, and set them aside in a dish.
Bring to the boil a liter of vegetable stock and boil in the meatballs, a few at a time. As soon as you throw them in, thy will sink to the bottom, but then they will slowly return to the surface. Boil them for about 5 minutes, then drain them and set aside in a dish.
Serve the soup
Pour the soup into small cups and serve with some chicken meatballs, then sprinkle with some grounded cumin.
Tasting test. Two dishes in one: the spicy butternut squash, full of flavours thanks to the previous baking, is a light first course, the kind of dish that warms your heart and stomach with its beautiful bright colour and intense scents. The chicken meatballs boiled in vegetable stock are delicate, an elegant main course to serve with a side dish of boiled potatoes.
Served together, they are a winning dish, very unusual, suitable for a Sunday evening, when you are wrapped in a wool plaid in front of the fireplace, trying to face psychologically the last week of work!