Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Winter Squash Soups

Our body, the earth both love it when we eat what's truly in season. Due to the wonder of planes, and world travel we are now able to eat all manner of fruits and vegetables that are either out of season for us or don't grow in our area at all. This is something we have learned to take for granted. Yet, nature has a way of growing and having available to us what it is we really need or crave in the season.

Fall and Winter are all those wonderful root vegetables and cabbage. The bounty of Winter Squashes. All are here during this time as a Powerhouse of healing. They have an amazing amount of vitamin A- a anticancer crusader. Also topping the winter food list for vitamin C and fiber. Hell-o potassium to boot. All of these help in the fight for colds, flu, and other winter maladies. As root vegetables, another thing they help our bodies do is ground. Keeping us planted during the season of dreams. Adding chili peppers or ginger also help our immune system.

Before they are cooked they don't take up valuable refrigerator space either.

All this said, let me share a base soup and then give you some options on different ways to play with them, to create different tastes. Now that you've got the idea ~ see what you might do.

Basic Winter Squash Soup 4-6servings for lunch or dinner 8 - if soup course

1 med size squash,(butternut, acorn, buttercup or Hubbard)about 2 pounds or a small pumpkin
1 TBS butter or olive oil
1 onion -diced
2 stalks celery
1 -2 large carrots
1 clove garlic
4-6 cups stock either vegetable or chicken.
salt and white pepper to taste.

Start by baking your choice of squash/pumpkin - to do this you'll cut it in half, take out the seeds with a spoon, place face down on a cookie sheet with- the oven set for 350 degrees, bake for about 30mins or until a fork inserted through the skin slides in easily. (Baking the squash/pumpkin gives the soup a richer taste- though you can make the soup by cutting the squash/pumpkin into chunks instead, and simmering them till soft)

Meanwhile - as the squash/pumpkin bake. Dice your [onion, garlic, celery and carrots]. Heat your soup pot - hot pan, cold 'fat' the food won't stick - throw in this [mixture] and sauté till onions are transparent. Set aside to add baked squash/pumpkin.
Add stock - *tip don't have stock~ easy fix ~to make a quick make shift one- take the peelings from the [mixture] add a potatoes or two chopped, throw into 4 cups of water simmer while the squash/pumpkin bakes. For easy stock I save the bits and pieces of onions and things -no broccoli or asparagus - in a container in the freezer for this sorts of moments- makes a richer stock. Strain you now have 'stock' -if you choose not to bake the squash/pumpkin due to timing needs throw the peelings into the stock pot as well.

When squash/pumpkin are ready - dig the wonderful 'meat' from the shell, add to the [mixture] pour in your stock cook on low heat for about 15 -20 minutes. Let it cool till lukewarm - now it's ready to be mashed or run through your 'quesy' (food processor). Reheat add salt and pepper to taste, serve topped with fresh parsley, scallions and or curtons.

*tip to make a heartier and heart healthy - to give it that creamy texture of heavy cream, blend in a small can of cannellini beans ( sometimes called white kidney)rinsed and drained - or about 1 1/2 cups soaked and cooked. This can be done to most soups and gives it a milky look without the dairy. A way to add more fiber - nobody knows but the cook

Changes to make something fancier.

Curried Butternut Squash
Follow basic recipe adding:
1 large apple
1more clove of garlic
1 finely chopped Anehiem chili
1/2-1 teaspoon Cheyenne pepper-this is a matter of how many stars
1-2 Tablespoons Curry Powder
optional - add 1star anise.

Roasted Red Pepper and Squash Soup
Following basic recipe add
2 large red roasted peppers
1/2 -1 teaspoon Cheyenne pepper

to roast your peppers- place under the broiler till skin turns black - gently pull this away from the pepper throw into the soup you can also roast a third then chop it as a garnish.

Apple Pumpkin
Following basic recipe using pumpkin add
2 Apples, like Courtland or Crispin - something with a lot of snap -Granny Smith could also work
1/2-1 teaspoon Cheyenne pepper
1-2 cinnamon sticks (this is a matter of taste- optional
replace 1-2 cups of the stock with apple juice.

Basque Pumpkin and White Bean made easy
Following basic recipe using pumpkin add
1 leek chopped and washed
3 more cloves of garlic
3 fresh sage leaves or 1/3 teaspoon dried
1 can cannellini beans -rinsed and drained or 1 1/2 cup cooked beans

you are not sending this soup through the 'quesy' - stir the pumpkin in well to incorporate it then add beans
garnish with fresh parsley and fresh ground pepper.

Hope to hear about some of the results! Have fun ~ love what you are cooking the food knows as do the ones who eat it. As Julie would say Bon Appetite!

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