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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Roasted & Toasted

A few days before our farmers' market closed down for the season, I stocked up on several varieties of winter squash; butternut, spaghetti, delicata, and acorn. After cooking most of them, a lone Elmwood Stock Farm acorn squash  sat nestled in a wooden bowl on the countertop for over a week. I'd grown weary of sweet and sticky lip-smacking glazed roasted squash, so I ignored it. 

A few nights ago, I needed  low impact time in the kitchen.  I didn't want to labor over anything fiddly or fussy, so I  took a second glance at the neglected countertop squash and decided to throw together a very simple roasted acorn squash soup using my familiar method for butternut squash soup.

After halving the squash, I scooped out the seeds, brushed the cut sides with olive oil, seasoned them with salt and pepper, and slid them into a 350 degree oven (cut side down) to roast for 45 minutes.  While the squash roasted, I sliced a couple of carrots, diced an onion, chopped a celery stalk, and diced a peeled bosc pear (unconventional). I tumbled the vegetables into a soup pot, added 2 cups of chicken stock, brought the stock to a boil, reduced it to a simmer, seasoned it,  covered the pot, and let the vegetables bubble away until they were tender.

I wanted a crisp garnish for the soup, but knew that croutons  would swell into gigantic puffy glops of bread. Although I usually suck at toasting seeds (burn baby burn), I took a chance and toasted the seeds from the acorn squash.  After rinsing and drying the seeds, I tossed them with melted smoked paprika butter before sliding them into the oven to toast alongside the roasting squash.

I poured myself a glass of wine and joined Michael in the parlor. My tufted chenille chair  blissfully swallowed me whole. Happy camper.

I almost forgot that I was cooking.

When the squash was beautifully caramelized and tender, I scooped the flesh from the shells, plopping  it into a blender with the chicken stock and cooked vegetables. Using a kitchen towel to cover the blender (trust me on that one), I pureed the mix until smooth,  poured the puree back into the soup pot, thinned it out with a bit of chicken stock, gave it a taste,  and kept it warm over a low flame until we were ready to eat. 

After a glass of wine or three, I ladled the velvety roasted acorn squash soup into our chipped hand-me-down Bybee Pottery bowls before finishing it with swirls of pure maple syrup-infused sour cream,  toasted spiced seeds, and fresh snipped chives

The soup was lighter than air with a soft luxurious mouthfeel. While the tangy sour cream cut through the richness with  smoky maple nuance, the verdant chives added tiny bites of freshness and the toasted seeds provided crunch.


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