This week was our penultimate farmbox of 2006. Considering the usual fall climate here in western PA, I think it was a remarkable assortment of goodies. A red cabbage, raddicchio, radishes, spinach, dill, a green pepper, potatoes, baby fennels, butternut squash, kale, spinach, lettuce, apple butter and cider. This soup is just another of the many butternut squash soups a person can make-either off the top of his/her head, or, in this case, combining 2 Deborah Madison recipes, from her new cookbook. The slim new paperback is called Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison's Kitchen. It is chock full of wonderful soups from the brilliant, imaginative and mostly vegetarian Ms. Madison.
This soup combines butternut squash and apples, roasted, with sauteed onions a bit of garlic and some broth. I used homemade chicken broth, because I had it, but it would be fine with the original vegetable broth, or water, for that matter.The soup is pureed, and garnished with bits of grilled raddicchio, an inspired idea. Wish I'd thought of it, but I do get to eat it, after all. I'm a sucker for grilled veg as well as for bitter greens (or, in this case, bitter purples). The creamy roasted sweetness of the vegetable puree is set off perfectly by the puckery bitter/sour garnish. A swirl of greek yogurt, or sour cream..and it's pretty, too.
There are so many wonderful winter squash recipes on the web and elsewhere, that it is hard for me to realize that 15 years ago, I viewed winter squash as a boring vegetable. It's amazingly versatile and delicious. I'm contemplating buying a bushel from my CSA farmer, for winter use. I'm just not sure my storage conditions are good enough. In any event, this is how you make this particular soup. No doubt you will be inventing your own winter squash masterpiece some time soon.
There are probably as many people making gorgeous orange or mustard coloured winter squash soups and gratins at the moment as there have been making the Sullivan Street no-knead bread from the New York Times. Maybe even more. Because it is the height of the season, and it is so very good.
A butternut squash or other winter squash, about 2 lbs.
cooking apples, peeled 2
pear, not too ripe one
peeled fresh ginger, about 1 1/2" cube, sliced thin
broth or water
onion, one thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
small head raddicchio, cut in wedges
red wine vinegar
Preheat oven to 425F. Cut the squash in half, and remove seeds. (Seeds can be roasted with a little oil and some smoked paprika and salt, and used to garnish.This is really good. I was lazy and didn't do it. I am experiencing regret.) Cut each half in 3 pieces, and cut the apples and pear in chunks, removing pits and stems. Spray a baking sheet with oil, and lay the squash, fruit and ginger on in a single layer. Spray with more olive oil, all over, and salt and pepper it all. Bake until very soft- it will take about an hour, possibly more.
Cool slightly, and then remove and discard all of the squash skin. Cook the sliced onion in some olive oil, in your soup pot, until just it's starting to brown, then add the roasted stuff , making sure to include all carmelized bits. Deglaze the pan with broth, and pour over contents of soup pot. Add enough more broth, or water, to cover the veg by 2", along with the chopped garlic. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for half an hour or so. Blend with a stick blender, leaving a bit of texture, if you like. Taste for seasoning. Add broth if too thick, or cook down if too thin.
Heat a cast iron skillet or grill pan, spraying or rubbing with a tiny bit of oil, and brown the raddicchio wedges on both sides. Sprinkle them with salt and some droplets of red wine or sherry vinegar. When cool, chop them into squares. Serve the soup with a bit of sour cream or thick yogurt swirled in, and the raddicchio on top. Purple and orange. Mine's got a few fennel fronds , parsley might be better.