anyhow. I’m TIRED. As expected, the Tuesday night workout was a beast. And today a recurring issue popped up in my left calf. This morning, AKA I probably did something yesterday to aggravate it. Actually, I’m not really sure what it is, exactly. Of course I have turned to the internets to give me all of the wisdom- and really- it could be shin splints, or a touch of calf strain, or something worse. For those that are curious, I have been feeling it on and off, especially after tough workouts… it is in my lower left calf, on the inside, about 2-3 inches above my ankle. The pain is sometimes achey (like a sore muscle, and sometimes a little stabby-er, but not constant stabbing- just like a poke here and then another poke and then a mile more and then another poke. I have intermittently rested it a few days, had it go away, only to have it come back again.
But today I was aware of it all day. So I touched it. Hopped on it. Hopped on one leg on it (just to test it?) Did the Arc trainer. You know, all of the smart things? Now I have some ice on it.
Yes, I called the doctor. You may wonder- gee, if this has been going on for so long, why haven’t you called yet? I have a lot going on here, people. My work wife has a one-week-old baby as of this morning, I was just in Virginia for a wedding, etc etc, excuse, excuse… if the pain doesn’t resolve on its own over the weekend with some reduced activity/mileage I will be showing up to the orthopedist on Monday afternoon.
So what does that mean for today’s planned 2x2x3x1? I am going to start running and see what happens. Ice and some NSAIDs can often reduce inflammation just enough. If it hurts I am going to stop running immediately and begin some other type of cardio-torture.
Anyhow…. squash soup? Yes please? This recipe is as simple as it gets, and needs no butter, no cream, no oil- nothing to cream-ify the already perfectly velvet texture of the squash. You can absolutely make the squash and leave off the clams and bacon (or leave off the clams and keep the bacon, your call)- but I love having some “things” in my soup to make it interesting. In this case, the squash and the clams both have some natural sweetness- trust me, it seems as if these are foods that should be eaten together always. Bacon and squash is a classic pairing. Clams and bacon are classic (to me… maybe not to anyone who eats kosher. Sorry)- so bacon is the matchmaker in this winner winner clam dinner.
yeah, more puns. I’m a sucker for them, and also a really classic joke. I don’t usually understand more complex humor. I’m missing that gene, I think.
Anyhow, we are serving this soup for Thanksgiving alongside our pasta course. Yes. this exact soup- we made an ENORMOUS amount and froze it. It has joined the chest freezer party! The day before Thanksgiving we will move it to a fridge (or cooler, given the cost of real estate in the fridge right before t-day) to thaw, and then we will slowly reheat it on the stove. We will make the clams and bacon a la minute.
- 8 cups 1" cubed butternut or other squash. Pumpkin works, too
- 1 large sweet onion (yellow or vidalia)
- 3 cloves garlic, sliced
- 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
- 3 sprigs fresh Thyme
- 1 sprig fresh sage (like 8 or so leaves)
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups chicken stock
- Salt and Pepper
- 3-4 Little Neck Clams per dinner guest (so 4 guests, 12-16 clams, depending on budget/taste of the guests)
- 3 Strips of thick cut bacon, applewood smoked if available
- 1 shallot
- 1 clove of garlic
- ½ cup of dry white wine
- Large Stock pot, or heavy bottomed enameled pot
- Blender or Immersion Blender
- Heat the oil in the bottom of the pot over medium heat
- Add the onion and garlic, and saute until the onions have softened, 2-3 minutes
- Add the squash and give it a solid few stirs to get it all mixed up
- Add the water and stock
- Tie the thyme and sage together into a small bundle using kitchen twine, and drop it into the pot
- Allow to simmer over medium heat until the squash is very tender. Time varies depending on how hard your squash is- as few as 35 minute and up to 45ish. Test done-ness with a fork; if the squash cubes easily come apart, it is done.
- Remove the Thyme and Sage
- Allow to cool slightly, and blend very thoroughly using the immersion blender. Blend beyond what looks blended for the best texture.
- Alternatively, you can use a traditional blender. Cool the soup a bit more, then blend the soup in batches, pouring the blended soup into another pot.
- Taste the blended soup for salt and pepper- you will likely need to add a tablespoon of salt (hey! it's a lot of soup!) and add pepper to taste.
- Keep warm until service. The soup freezes exceptionally well at this point, and can be thawed in the fridge and then re-heated on the stove.
- Soak the clams in fresh water for 30 minutes or so to allow the clams to give up any sand they may have
- Scrub the shells to make sure they aren't sandy/dirty
- Cut the Bacon into lardons- ¼ inch slices
- Mince the shallot and garlic
- Heat a medium pan over medium-high heat- add the bacon and allow it to render all of its fat
- Remove the bacon using a slotted spoon and place it onto a plate lined with a paper towel to drain the fat
- Add the shallot and garlic to the pan with the bacon drippings and cook until the shallot is translucent- 3-4 minutes
- Add the clams and the wine, bring the wine to a boil and cover the pan.
- Cook the clams until they open up, 5-8 or so minutes. If the clams are not all open cover the pan again and cook for another few minutes. Check the clams every minute after 6 minutes; discard any clams that do not open readily after 10 minutes.
- Ladle soup into wide bowls
- Spoon 3-4 clams into the center of the bowl
- Sprinkle bacon over the clams and spoon some of the liquid from the pan over the clams.
- Garnish with fresh sage
Suggested wine pairing? We enjoyed a French Chablis with this dish- but any creamy, buttery chardonnay will work. Vouvray, chenin blanc or a dry reisling would also make a good pairing. Bubbles go with everything. I don’t recommend highly acidic mineral-y wines such as sauvignon blanc- since the squash is inherently sweet the wine will taste sour as you go back and forth between the two.