Butternut squash "vellutata di Zucca"
I buy a zucca Ferrarese (a butternut squash in the rest of the world) to prepare this soup. Any zucca that remains is peeled and chopped into large cubes and frozen. That way I always have it ready for the next zuppa, vellutata or risotto!
600g Zucca, peeled and cubed
1 large onion or leek
1 cube vegetable broth, or 150 g soffritto (minced onion, carrots and celery), or 2 carrots and 3 celery sticks (minced)
Optional: a small package of soft cheese such as "Galbanino" or half of the small Philadelphia cheese package or 50ml fresh cream
Peel the squash with a knife and rid the squash of any threads. Rinse and pat dry. Cut into 2 x 2 inches (abt 4x4 cm). Peel and wash onion. If using the carrots and celery, wash, peel and mince now. Slice or chop the onion finely and cook in a bit of olive oil until it becomes translucent (add sofrito at this stage if using it). Add the pumpkin and cover with water, add the dado if using it.
Let the veggies simmer about 20 to 30 mins (depends on size of cubes!). Test pumpkin for doneness by putting a knife or fork through a piece, if it goes through easily its done! Then remove from heat, put your submersion hand blender in the soup and blend until the vegetables are pureed finely. At this point, add salt and pepper to taste.
You can separate your batch (low fat) now and add fresh cream or the soft cheese to the "family" batch. To make your plates especially pretty, leave a little cream aside to swirl in once you've made each plate. You can also serve with toasted bread cubes, slivered parmigiano and/or a swirl of olive oil and some extra fresh pepper. Another way to serve it is to toast some nuts: almonds or hazelnuts (in a small non stick frying pan over medium heat), break them up a bit and sprinkle some on top of each dish.
Another variation is to cook the onion with 2 sticks of celery (chopped finely), it changes the flavor ever so slightly and there's another vegetable in the soup!
"Vellutata di verdure" Vegetable vellutè
Much easier than Minestrone, no need to chop up vegetables!
1-2 carrots (depends on size)
1 med or large onion
optional 1 med to large potato
This is the basic vegetable vellutata upon which I like to add some diced butternut squash or some spinach in the soup. The amount to add depends on you, each time you can make a slightly different soup to serve depending on the combination of vegetables added.
The process is the same as in the previous soups except here you dont need to cut up the vegetables. After washing, peeling and trimming ends of the vegetables, add them whole to a large enough pot and cover with water. Simmer until done and remove from heat. Then blend with your submersion hand blender until the vegetables are pureed finely. At this point, add salt and pepper to taste.
This is a great soup to cook some pasta (maltagliati or quadrettini) in, add a swirl of very good olive oil and freshly cracked pepper.