Saturday, January 22, 2011
Soup for a Snowy Day
I love snow days...even though we've now had three in the space of 10 days. Perhaps I feel this way because I no longer have to commute to work, but even back when I worked at a full-time job outside the home, I still appreciated the kind of full stop a good snow storm can provide.
As I sat enjoying the cascade of snowflakes falling outside the window, I thought about how I would now need to rearrange my plans for the day and the week. Part of this was to decide what I would make for lunch and dinner since my son would be home and I would have additional kids to feed. (I provide back-up care for working mother's in my neighborhood.) Fortunately, my freezer is still pretty well stocked with food I had preserved this summer and fall. For lunch, I pulled out a sauce with meatballs and for dinner, squash soup.
The squash soup recipe I use and have adapted over the years comes from Dr. Andrew Weil and was published in an article in Body and Soul Magazine now Whole Living Magazine at least three or four years ago (unfortunately the issue date is not on the page of the magazine I tore out and keep in my three ring binder of magazine recipes). This soup is one of my son's favorites. I like the creamy texture of the soup which requires no dairy as well as the sweet, savory, spicy flavor that is so warming on a cold day.
I have included the original recipe below though I confess that I no longer follow it. I always use butternut squash as I find it is the easiest to peel and to get the most uniform chunks. I tend to use whatever apples I have on hand. This summer there were plenty of Macoun and Macs, so I believe one of these varieties is what ended up in the soup. In addition to chili powder, I have added both dried basil and marjoram to batches I have made. From time to time, I have added ground cumin seed which I think balances the sharp heat of chili powder with a more subtle, smokey warmth. I also generally add cinnamon, another warming spice, that compliments the sweetness of the apples and squash.
This year I was very fortunate to be able to make this soup using only ingredients (other than the cumin and cinnamon) which I received from our CSA. By the time we were getting squash in our weekly share, I was making batches of vegetable broth in an effort not to waste the abundance of veggies we were receiving and unable to consume quickly enough. Instead of chili powder, I roasted fresh chili peppers along with the squash, onions, garlic and apples. I also included heirloom basil...the kind we received was a purplish color rather than the typical green.
Roasted Winter Squash and Apple Soup
1 large winter squash (about 2 1/2 pounds), such as butternut, buttercup, or kabocha, peeled, seeded, and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 medium onions, peeled and quartered
3 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tart, firm apples (such as Macoun or Granny Smith), peeled quartered and cored
2 tablespoons olive oil
Mild to medium chili powder
3 1/2 to 4 cups vegetable broth
Preheat over to 400 degrees F.
In a large roasting pan, combine the squash, onions, garlic, apples, and oil; toss to coat. Generously season with salt and chili powder. Roast, stirring every 10 minutes, until the vegetables are fork-tender and lightly browned, about 45 minutes.
In a food processor, combine half the vegetables and half the broth; puree until smooth, and transfer to a medium saucepan. Repeat with the remaining vegetables and broth. Heat over medium-low, stirring occasionally and adding more broth if soup is too thick, until heated through. Season with salt and additional chili powder, if necessary. Serve immediately.