It seems like everyone loves autumn and all the winter squash it brings. Everyone except me. I do like kabocha squash and some other pumpkins, but if I'm honest, that's about it.
I'd prefer to let the squash lovers keep their acorns, butternuts and especially their spaghettis, for themselves. But cooking for a somewhat vegetarian household in the fall and winter means winter squash will have to grace our table at some point, especially since we are guaranteed to get some in our CSA box.
In fact, last Wednesday, we unpacked our first butternut squash of the season. I groaned inwardly as I stuck it on the counter, next to the bowl of onions. I figured it would stand there awkwardly for a few weeks until I finally, and grumpily, got around to slaughtering it, cooking it, and then vaguely avoiding it on my plate. One of my complaints about squash (especially butternut) is that to me, it's just sweet and has no depth of flavor. Roasting it helps, but that's not enough. I cannot give up on learning to like squash, though, for the reasons I just mentioned, so I remain open to new recipes.
Last week, I listened to the Local Mouthful podcast where Joy Manning and Marisa McClellan discussed how much they were looking forward to winter squash season and how they prepare their squash. I was totally unmoved by their descriptions of roasted squash with butter. But Joy Manning's suggestion of how to prepare a flavorful squash soup grabbed my attention. Get this: She cooks the squash strings and seeds in the soup pot until they develop into a deep fond on the bottom of the pan, and then removes the extra strings and seeds before going forward with the rest of the soup. What a great way to develop good flavor! Yesterday, Wyatt and I tried it. It made a great butternut squash soup. And I don't mean "great for butternut squash soup," but actually great soup that happens to be made with butternut squash.
Here's what we did:
I peeled and cut the squash. Wyatt helped to cut the pieces smaller, but squash is hard to cut (yet another of it's charming qualities), so we worked together. We also sautéed some onions until they caramelized. Ours actually got a little burnt, and then Wyatt ate a third of them, but I was aiming for one large onion, thinly sliced and then caramelized. I think that would have been ideal for this recipe. I removed the onions from the soup pot, added a little more olive oil, and then scooped the seeds and strings of the squash into the pot and let them cook there until a fond developed on the bottom of the pan. Once there was a deep-colored fond, I removed the remaining loose squash strings and all the seeds, sautéed some fresh sage for a few seconds, added the squash, deglazed the pan with some white wine, and poured in a quart of broth. We let the pot simmer until the squash was soft, and then we put the soup in the blender in batches. We added salt and pepper to taste, and we added some cream before serving, but you could easily leave out the cream if you prefer.
I'm pretty excited that I'm actually looking forward to the leftovers of this soup. And if you have some clever and delicious squash preparations you'd like to share, I'd love to hear them. Squash season is just beginning, after all.