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Roasted Butternut Squash Soup ~ Roasted Pepper Fettuccine

By Betsy Kline, Food copy editor and page designer

Ellen Lebow of Squirrel Hill submitted this first recipe for a marvelous winter soup, Roasted Butternut Squash Soup. Don't let "roasted" throw you -- the microwave makes quick work of the dense squash in this streamlined recipe, which was also featured in Bon Appetit magazine. With a soup as lovely as this in its golden glory, adornment is incidental, but Lebow likes to add a dollop of nonfat sour cream to each bowl for visual effect.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

1/2-pound butternut squash, halved lengthwise, seeded
2 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
1 cup nonfat milk -- for a richer soup use milk with more fat
Pinch of nutmeg

Prick squash with tines of fork and put in microwave. Heat on high 7 to 10 minutes until pulp is tender. (It may taker longer depending on the wattage of your microwave.) Scrape pulp from squash shell into food processor, taking care because it will be very hot.

Add pinch of nutmeg and about 1/2 cup of the chicken broth and puree until smooth. Transfer puree to large cooking pot. Mix in milk and remaining broth and stir soup over medium heat until heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls. Top with dollop of sour cream and chives or whole berry cranberry sauce for a sweet touch. Makes 4 servings.

Tester's note: Be sure to use oven mitts when handling the squash because it will be extremely hot. We found it helpful to place the squash on a double thickness of microwave-safe paper towels while cooking, and then to pull it carefully onto a plate or cookie sheet to remove from the microwave. This soup can be served as a first course or as a main dish, accompanied by a green salad and bread.

Roasted Pepper Fettuccine

Jarred roasted peppers (about 7 ounces, marinated in oil, not vinegar) or substitute 2 freshly roasted peppers without the oil
8 ounces fettuccine
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
3 slices bacon
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1/3 cup chicken broth (or water)
1 teaspoon flour
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

If roasting fresh peppers: Set oven to broil. Halve, core and seed the peppers. Place the peppers on a foil-lined cookie sheet and put directly under broiler. Roast until the skins are totally blackened. Remove from oven and immediately place peppers in clean paper bag. After 10 minutes, pull the skins off. Slice the peppers and set aside.

While the peppers are roasting, set the pasta water to boil. Cook pasta until al dente. Drain and rinse with hot water.

In a large skillet, fry bacon until just crisp. Remove bacon to drain on paper towels and pour off the fat. Do not wipe pan. Add the olive oil to the skillet with the sliced onion, minced garlic and chopped zucchini. Saute until the vegetables are tender. Chop or crumble bacon into small pieces. Stir flour into the broth. Add peppers, bacon and broth to the skillet, stirring to combine well.

When bubbly throughout, add the Romano cheese, salt and pepper to taste. Toss with the hot fettuccine and serve immediately. Makes 3 to 4 generous servings.

Thursday, January 04, 2001

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