Quash the squash workload with soup
My neighbor once remarked that I always seem to be cutting or chopping something. Her observation was spot-on, though when possible, I prefer to use some kind of appliance to do the job. If that’s not possible, I try to engage some passerby in the kitchen to help out. In my ideal world, I would have a permanent sous chef on hand to do all of the slicing and dicing.
Last week I was gifted with two organic butternut squash from a friend’s garden. Butternut squash is one of my favorite fall vegetables, but when I thought about actually turning them into a meal, my enthusiasm was somewhat muted. Because of their hourglass shape, butternut squash are a real pain to peel. Peeling is only the beginning. Seeds must be removed and the hard flesh must be carved into manageable pieces. Unlike their cute acorn cousins, they are too big to be served whole.
Not to worry — if life hands you a large, unruly vegetable, make soup. With one fell swoop of my cleaver, I halved the squash. After cleaning out the seeds, I placed it facedown in the oven. Forty-five minutes later, the orange flesh was easily removed — no peeling required. I let the oven do my work.
Although many butternut squash recipes begin with the raw vegetable, roasting the squash first intensifies its natural sweetness. With the addition of a few aromatics, a plain Jane vegetable can transform into a flavorful soup.
Butternut Squash Soup
1 butternut squash
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 tart apple, peeled and roughly chopped
1 quart vegetable or chicken stock
11/2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Sour cream and chives for garnish (optional)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Season with salt and pepper and place facedown on a baking sheet. If you don’t want to clean the baking sheet afterward, line it with parchment paper.
Cook for about 45 minutes, or until the flesh can be pierced easily with a knife. When cool, scoop out the squash and set aside. This step can be done ahead of time.
In a large pot, heat the olive oil over a medium flame. Add the onions and garlic, and cook for five minutes or until the onion is softened. Add the grated ginger and cook for about 30 seconds more. Add the squash, apple, salt, brown sugar and about three-quarters of the stock and bring to a boil. The amount of stock needed depends on the size of your squash.
Reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook covered for twenty minutes. Using an immersion blender or countertop blender, puree the soup until smooth. If the soup is too thick, add more stock to thin it to your desired consistency. Taste for salt. Serve hot, garnished with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of chives.
— Julie Falsetti, a York native, comes from a long line of good cooks. Her column, From Scratch, runs twice monthly in The York Dispatch food section. Reach her with questions and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many soups call for stock as their base. Buying stock be pricey. A better alternative is to make your own.
When you are finished with your turkey, put the carcass in a large pot and cover it with cold water. You can also add any old or wilted vegetables for more flavor. Bring the pot to a boil, and then cover and lower to a simmer. Cook for an hour and then let cool.
Strain the stock and freeze in quart containers for later use.