Eight years ago B and I hung up our snow shovels and moved to California. We haven’t looked back, but I do suffer from a bit of seasonal nostalgia right about now.
Having grown up in the northeast, there is something I miss terribly about
having seasons – fall in particular. The foliage of course, but the atmosphere too. The smell of wood burning in fireplaces as the temperatures turn colder and the damp humidity of summer is sucked out of the air, kids playing in piles of crunchy leaves, breaking out the wool socks. Even football is better with seasons. There’s something not quite right about tailgating in shorts and a tank top in November.
Here in SoCal we like to try to pretend it’s really fall. We (and by we, I mean native Californians who don’t know any better) wear Uggs and knee socks with shorts, turtleneck sweaters with skirts and flip flops, scarves year round. Yes, we have chilly nights that beg for a fire and hot cocoa, but not like other places. Those lucky enough to have been born and raised in this weather (which, lets face it, is about 18% of the population – most people here are transplants from somewhere cold) don’t know what it’s like to have to walk somewhere on a bitter cold windy day or have snot frozen to their face. But they also don’t know what it’s like to come out of that cold to a warm kitchen rich with the scent of a vegetable stew on the stove or roasting root vegetables in the oven.
That, friends, is the part of fall I can attempt to recreate here in the Whale’s Vagina. Thankfully our CSA delivers on my craving for fall foods right about now – squash in all shapes and sizes, late summer heirloom tomatoes, dark leafy greens, and beets all send me to a cozy place.
Our last CSA box included butternut squash, which I usually roast and serve as a side. Last night I got a wild hair and decided to make soup. After perusing the interwebs and some cookbooks for ideas, I decided on a combo of roasted squash, onion, ginger, apple and garlic. I got lazy and roasted the squash in halves rather than peeling and cubing it pre-roasting. Takes a lot longer and it’s difficult to judge when to add in the faster cooking bits.
I started with just squash, onion and a few apples (skin on) and roasted on 350 for about an hour. An hour or so in, I added chopped garlic and sliced ginger, a little bit of water to the pan and baked for another half an hour or so (until the squash was squishy- I mashed it up a little during cooking to speed things up).
At this point I let it cool overnight because I was tired and lazy and wanted my bed more than I wanted soup. If you are inclined to do this while the mixture is still hot though, just take the center plug out of the blender lid to let steam escape (cover with a kitchen towel to keep soup from flying everywhere).
I peeled the squash, then put about half the mixture in the blender along with spices and about 1.5 c chicken broth.
Repeat until it’s all blended, heat in a pot for a few minutes just to meld all the flavors together, serve.
This would be SO good with homemade bread. Too bad I ate it all.
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
w/onions, ginger, & apples
Probably serves about 6 if you consume reasonable portions
1 large butternut squash, peeled and cubed or halved and seeded
2 small apples, cored and quartered
3 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
2-3 inch hunk of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
2 medium sweet onions, quartered
3 cups chicken broth
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp white pepper
salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350
- Place squash, apples and onions in a roasting pan (if you’re doing peeled and cubed squash, add the garlic and ginger here too). Drizzle with olive oil and toss/stir to coat
- Bake about 50 mins (if using cubes, they should be done at this point, check to be sure they’re soft).
- For halved squash, add garlic and ginger and a little water to the bottom of the pan to prevent burning. Continue to bake until squash is soft.
- Place half squash mixture, spices and 1.5 C chicken broth in a blender. Blend on high until pureed – stopping to stir a few times.
- Pour blended mixture into a pot and continue blending until all of the squash mixture is blended.
- Heat in the pot on low heat for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Serve or refrigerate.
* I only added spices to the first blender batch.
** If you want a thicker soup, add a few Tbsp. of half and half or heavy cream to the mixture in the pot.
***If you have them, serve this in bread bowls. It will make it look even less like baby food. Who’s ever seen a baby eating out of a bread bowl?