Thursday, November 13, 2008

Harvest Squash Soup

Autumn is my absolute favorite time of year. The farmer's market is overflowing with an abundance of produce. I love how summer vegetables and fruit linger into November and mingle along side both autumn and winter produce. Hard squashes are a favorite of most during this time of year, so I thought I would share my best recipe for Winter Squash Soup. I developed this recipe last autumn. I wanted something that really let the squash speak for itself instead of being hidden and masked by lots of different flavors such as ginger, curry, or apple. Any hard squash can be used in this recipe, but keep in mind that some squashes are starchier than others, requiring a little more vegetable stock to achieve the right consistency. Kobacha is probably the starchiest, so add vegetable stock accordingly. Though not neccessary to make this soup good, toasted pumpkin seed oil is an indulgence, quite expensive, and well worth every penny. A little goes a very long way, so just a drizzle in each bowl of soup is enough. The oil puts this soup over the top.

As you can probably guess, I am still quite busy with my new little Ellissa. She is my world and keeps me occupied most of the day. I hope to start posting more regularly as she becomes more accustomed to the world, but no promises.

Harvest Squash Soup with Toasted Pumpkin Seed Oil
*Serves 4-6 as a first course, or 2-4 as a main course
*Autumn, Winter

-2½-3 lb winter squash such as Acorn, Kobacha
or Butternut Squash
-1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
-1 small sized yellow onion, sliced
-1 large clove garlic, smashed
-3½-4½ cups autumn vegetable stock, or more if necessary
-1½ teaspoons smoky paprika
-2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
-1/2 of a cinnamon stick
-Salt and fresh round white pepper to taste
-Toasted pumpkin seeds (to garnish)
-Toasted pumpkin seed oil (to garnish)
Pre-heat the oven to 375̊F. Cut the winter squash in half length wise using a heavy, sharp knife. Scoop out the seeds, and drizzle the squash halves with half of the olive oil. Line a baking sheet with baking paper and place the squash halves cut side down on the sheet. Roast in the oven until quite soft, about 30-45 minutes. If using Kobacha squash, you might find the flesh much starchier than expected, and not as soft. To tell if it is done roasting, scoop a little of the flesh and if it resembles baked potato flesh, it is done.

Heat a heavy, medium sized soup pot over medium heat. When warm, add in the rest of the olive oil, along with the onions and chopped garlic. Cook until the onions become slightly soft. Add in the squash pulp, about 3 ½ cups of stock, paprika, half of the thyme, and the cinnamon stick. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Allow the soup to simmer until the squash becomes very tender, and the soup seems like it is almost pureed, about 15-20 minutes. Turn off the heat, remove the cinnamon stick, and prepare a blender.

Blend the soup on high, in batches if necessary, until very smooth. If the soup is too thick, add in additional stock. The amount of stock needed is determined by how starchy the squash is. When finished, the soup should be the consistency of heavy cream. Return to the pan and turn the heat on low to re-warm. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Ladle into warm bowls and garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds, a drizzling of deep green, toasted pumpkin seed oil, and a sprinkling of the chopped, left over thyme.


Yvette Acord said...

I love this soup! My school's FFA club raised butternut squash so I had a big crate of it. I had my students make the soup. Most of them tried it and most of those really liked it. Only 2 said they had ever had squash soup before. Can you recommend a source for toasted pumpkin seed oil? I couldn't find it at New Frontiers or Trader Joe's. The soup was great without it, but you've piqued my curiosity. P.S. Ellissa looks adorable!

Correne Quigley-Faysal said...

Another place to try to find toasted pumpkin seed oil is the co-op in SLO. If they don't have it than you may have to order it on-line, oe through the co-op. I think since it is not a very popular oil and is kind of pricey, stores don't just keep it stocked. I buy it when i see it!!