The Pragmatist Cooks: Squash Blossom Soup

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You guys know I love cooking with flowers. (See my last foray into floral cuisine here.) So when I visited the Union Square farmers markets last weekend, I was delighted when I saw hundreds of squash blossoms for sale.

These delicate flowers are scrumptious and scarce, thanks to the blink-and-you-miss-it late-summer season.

Typically, the blossoms are stuffed with cheese and delicately fried. But I was looking for something that felt a little lighter. I settled on this soup recipe — a summer vegetable bisque scattered with the flowers.

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Some of the ingredients.

The soup combines the sweetest treasures of summer — corn, zucchini and the aforementioned blossoms. The secret weapon is the Poblano pepper. Its mellow heat pops like a July 4th sparkler against the otherwise creamy texture.

The broth, onions and potatoes about to simmer.
The broth, onions and potatoes about to simmer.

You start off sautéing a whole red onion in butter, which creates a mellow sweetness. Then you dump in a few cups of broth (I used veggie, although the recipe calls for chicken). I don’t bother with the homemade stuff — boxed organic works fine.

Then you add a couple of cubed “boiling” potatoes. (I used baby red potatoes, which worked perfectly.) The taters are instrumental to the soup’s creamy base and they’re gluten-free. Don’t skip this step, even if you’re eliminating carbs this month.

You remove the stem and stamen (both are far left) from the squash blossoms, but you can eat the rest.
You remove the stem and stamen (both are far left) from the squash blossoms, but you can eat the rest.

While the soup is simmering, you’ll need to prep all your squash blossoms. I bought more than 20 flowers, so this took a little bit of time.

First, I snapped off the stamen, which is that fuzzy little pollen bomb in the center of the petals. Then I took off the stem. Next, you slice the blossoms across, creating long, orange-colored ribbons.

I was intimidated by roasting poblano peppers, but it was surprisingly easy.
I was intimidated by roasting poblano peppers, but it was surprisingly easy.

You’ll also have to roast two Poblano peppers. This was my first time roasting peppers over an open flame, so I was nervous I’d ruin the pepper, the stove-top AND burn down my apartment. But to my great relief, it couldn’t have been easier.

Just fire up the gas burner, slap the pepper on top and flip it with tongs every few minutes. After a few minutes, the skin will be blackened and cracking. Throw your sunburned pepper into a paper bag and wait a few minutes. (Be patient: The steam is working its magic inside the bag.)

Once the pepper has cooled in the bag, you can rub the skin off to reveal a roasted, deflated pepper that looks a bit like a slimy tube sock. Cut it open and take out the seeds. (Rinse it off and then chop it up.)

Clockwise from top left: Red Onion, Corn, Squash Blossoms and Roasted Peppers.
Clockwise from top left: Red Onion, Corn, Squash Blossoms and Roasted Peppers.

Now you have to blend your base (the broth, potatoes, etc.) Return the now-creamy mixture to the saucepan and stir in milk and the kernels from one ear of corn (I use a cleaver to separate the kernels from the cob). Next, add the peppers, cubed zucchini, the onions and finally, your flowers.

The soup is a pale daffodil color.
The soup is a pale, buttery daffodil color.

Once everything has been melding together for a few minutes, take everything off the heat and stir in organic sour cream. (The really good stuff has the same texture as creme fraiche — if your sour cream is gloopy, I recommend using creme fraiche instead.) Top everything off with a sprinkling of parsley.

Finito! Velvety bisque studded with chunks of zucchini and "streamers" of squash blossom petals.
Finito! Velvety bisque studded with chunks of zucchini and “streamers” of squash blossom petals.

Despite the lactose overload, this recipe was absolutely delightful. (I’m not wild about dairy’s impact on my stomach, but I felt fine after two bowls of this.)

If you try it, I’d love to hear your thoughts!