Thursday, September 27, 2012

Squash season

This squash went topsy-turvey
On the first Sunday of autumn the Headhouse Square farmers' market offered plenty of winter squash, including the behemoths pictured here from Tom Culton's stall.

I took advantage of the crop to buy a 2-3/4 pound butternut from Queen Farm, turning it into a delicious soup. One of the beauties of butternut is that the elongated end which holds most of the meat is seedless; and it's easy enough to scrape the seeds out of the "ball" end.

The skin peeled off easily with a veggie peeler, then I diced the meat into roughly one-inch cubes. That done, I sauteed a shallot (half a small onion would work, too), in a couple tablespoons of butter until translucent, then added a couple tablespoons of finely chopped sage leaves from the garden, salt, pepper and squash. A couple minutes more and I poured in a quart of warmed vegetable stock I had squirreled away in my freezer. (If you don't have stock, plain water works fine, too.) I cooked until the squash was very tender (starting to fall apart), then took out my handy-dandy immersion blender and whirred away. When almost done, I added even more butter. If you wish (and I recommend it) a teaspoon of plain granulated sugar helps intensify the flavor.

At this point you could do as I did and put it in the fridge. It keeps for at least a couple of days. As the soup was reheating I added some whole milk to thin out the overly thick potage. Classicists wouldn't be wrong in stirring in heavy cream instead.

You certainly don't have to go with sage as the flavoring. This soup would take well to sweeter seasonings: add a diced apple to the squash when cooking and then maybe some cinnamon or grated fresh ginger. Or a carrot or two instead of apple. Or a pear. Even a small bottle of pear nectar does wonders.

Culton labelled this a French pumpkin. Because it's gnarly?

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