You know you married the right person when, on a Friday night, he turns to you and says “This weekend, we should go get beef bones to make stock.”
And you know you live in the right neighborhood, when on Saturday you can just walk 10 minutes to the local butcher shop, where there are two butchers breaking down whole cuts of beef and pork, and you ask one of them for beef bones, and she, young, probably in her late 20s, her blond hair tied in a pony tail, puts down her knife, wipes her hands on her blood smeared apron, disappears in the walk-in refrigerator and comes back carrying a big box filled with 3-foot long beef bones. “How much do you want? I can cut them up for you,” she says.
Sure, our apartment smelled like roast beef for days afterwards but in the end we were left with a beautiful beef stock, with a delicate meaty flavor, surprising really, given the heady, almost overwhelming smell of cooked meat the bones gave off while they were roasting in the oven, before we simmered them away in a large pot filled with water, carrots, onions, celery, bay leaves, and peppercorns. The stock is now in the freezer, in one-cup portions, ready to be used for any recipe that calls for stock.
Like today’s Thai-style soup. The squash season is almost at an end, but you can still find butternut squash in the stores. This is an easy recipe to make, similar to the roasted butternut and coconut soup that I’ve posted here before, but without the coconut and with a much stronger Thai character, thanks to the lime juice, fish sauce, rice vinegar, and thai chili pepper used in it. Use any stock you have in hand (chicken, beef, or vegetable). Or go find some bones and make your own. It’s worth it.
6 cups peeled, cubed butternut squash, cut into 1½”-2″ cubes (from about one 2½ lbs squash)
1½ tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cups stock (chicken, beef, or vegetable)
1½ tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon water
½ tablespoon rice vinegar
½ tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon sugar
1 small garlic clove pressed in garlic press or grated on microplane zester
1 small Thai red chili (red bird’s eye chili), thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 425° F. In a large bowl, toss together squash, oil, salt, and pepper. Spread on large baking sheet and roast in oven for about 45-50 minutes, until squash is cooked through and edges are dark brown. Let squash cool slightly.
In a blender, add roasted squash and all of the remaining ingredients. Blend until completely combined and smooth. Pour in a medium sized pot and warm over medium heat. Serve in bowls on its own, or topped with a dollop of crème fraîche or sour cream.