A friend came up with this butternut squash soup recipe, and when he served it, his elegant presentation wowed everyone. He placed one perfectly seared sea scallop in the middle of a bowl, ladled butternut squash soup around it, then topped the scallop with an elegant vegetable “purse” made from a egg roll wrapper tied with a chive. Once the crunchy purse opens, tasty vegetables inside it along with the crunchy egg roll wrapper provide additional flavor and texture to the soup. I thought it was ingenious. Each part could stand alone, but together they are a true treat.
Cooking scallops is easy when you keep a few techniques in mind: the best way is to sear them in a hot pan with clarified butter (also called ghee). Clarified butter has a much higher smoking point than butter because the milk solids and water have been removed. It’s not necessary to buy ghee, it is easy and less expensive to make yourself…which you’ll want to do after you check this out to learn about its unexpected health benefits. Once you add the scallops, don’t move them except for the flip. One and a half minutes per side is all they need. The centers should remain rare.
Frozen scallops are available year round. Recently, the Bozeman Co-op had fresh ones. They are from Maine and harvested by a diver (in fins) as opposed to being dredged up. They arrive “dry,” meaning they are not packed in seawater, and have no added nitrates. Scallops contain B12, magnesium, potassium and omega 3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) that can promote your cardiovascular health, plus provide protection against colon cancer.
Starchy butternut squash offers some key health benefits: it contains antioxidants, is anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic and has insulin-regulating properties. This soup recipe has a bit of an Asian flair thanks to the coconut milk, which is a healthy fat opposed to cream. You could add curry to the onions at the beginning, but I prefer not to mask its delicate flavor.
The vegetable purses are so easy but look they came out of a high-end kitchen. They are made form egg roll wrappers. I had a hard time finding gluten free egg roll wrappers in Bozeman, so I ordered these and they worked well. Sauté about a cup of chopped vegetables for a few minutes in butter, then put a tablespoon or two in the center of the wrapper, paint just the edges with butter, then gently pinch together to form each “purse.” Much easier to make than you’d think!