MY SIGN OF FALL’S ARRIVAL isn’t the changing leaves on our massive sugar maples but the arrival of baskets full of butternut and acorn squash at roadside stands. (Curcurbita for you botanist.)
This event puts me in the mood for making soup. Squash soup, usually reserved for the Thanksgiving holidays, is just too good to wait that long. Rain and windy days also help bring on the feeling, but winter squash gets me totally excited to begin baking and simmering the garden bounty leading to this nearly perfect early fall soup.
Yesterday was that day of calling and I bit.
After our morning visit to the farmers market my lovely partner Nancy and I collected a bounty of vegetables of all shapes and sizes. The headliner acorn squash was joined by complimentary veggies and got us talking about a few stray potatoes and a large white onion that had been sitting in our kitchen wire basket for a week or two waiting to be used. I could sense their anticipation to be partnered with such a late crop squash.
But what really got us tantalized was the hand harvest of our five-month ginger plant that we had coddled for the summer months with our tender loving care. I worked the upper soil and exposed the ginger lumps (rhizomes) that I cut away with a sharp knife just under the soil. OMG, our own ginger from our garden pot in Michigan, is that ever cool. I’ve experienced its zesty and pungent spicy flavor in teas, with fish marinades, and now in this squash soup. It is mandatory for this soup. So, don’t skip it.
Bob’s Fall Squash Soup
One acorn squash halved, seeded, oven baked for an hour at 375F. I brushed with olive oil and added a few dashes of cinnamon. Let it cool and scoop out the flesh. (A butternut squash would be just fine too.)
1 large white onion chopped
1 stalk of celery chopped
2 cloves of garlic
3 large carrots chopped into two-inch sections (I used to peel, but most now tell me not to do that for the beta-carotene, so, I listened.)
3 chopped medium banana peppers
1 Gala or Granny Smith apple peeled and chopped
1 sweet potato peeled and cubed
2 medium russet potatoes peeled and cubed
1-2 teaspoons … Cumin, Cinnamon, Paprika and Nutmeg and 2 inches of thinly sliced Ginger. Salt and Pepper.
In a 3-quart sauce pan lightly sweat the onions, garlic, pepper and celery for five minutes then add the spices before adding the chicken stock. Add everything else and cover for thirty minutes at a rigorous steep.
One can add half and half should they desire, but I'm going without.
I have come to simply enjoy a quick immersion blender stopping at a rough chop, but you can choose a consistency that floats your own boat.
Garnish with sugared walnuts and a dollop of Greek yogurt and sprigs of fresh parsley.