Appreciating the season with homemade soup

Posted by Robin Krosinsky

My favorite flavor is fall. Whether it is baked into apple pie or sprinkled on roasted root vegetables, I can't get enough of the earthy, comforting tastes and smells that fill my kitchen as the foliage starts to turn.

On a recent visit to the market I found squashes to be a plenty. Nothing sings the sweetness of fall more to me than butternut squash, so I was delighted to buy as many as I could carry back to school.

I had also made a promise to myself (and my housemates) that I would bake a pumpkin pie, so I picked up a small, robust pie pumpkin.

I couldn't wait to dig into one of my squashes, so when I got home I dashed over to the oven and started pre-heating it to 450 degrees. I grabbed the biggest knife I could find and sliced the squash in half lengthways.

I put it in a baking pan and drizzled olive oil and maple syrup (that is, real maple syrup) over the top. A sprinkling of salt, pepper and cinnamon and it was good to go. Into the oven for 40 minutes until the squash could be spooned up from the skin and melted in my mouth.

As the squash was cooking I thought of other fall flavored foods I could cook. I really wanted to use the pumpkin, but I had no desire to make a piecrust. My stomach was also leaning toward the savory. So, I decided to squash (mind the pun) my housemates' dreams of pumpkin pie and instead try to make pumpkin soup for the first time.

Once I had butchered the pumpkin and had started sautéing the chunks in a pan with onion, garlic and carrots, I realized that I was missing the classic spices that one typically sees in a pumpkin soup. So, instead of using cloves and nutmeg, I decided to use cinnamon, as it had flavored my squash so beautifully, and herbs de Provence, because I thought that the delicate, earthy aroma would balance the heartiness of the pumpkin meat.

I added some chicken stock, lots of salt and pepper and left the soup to reduce. After 30 minutes I lifted the lid off the pot and could almost smell the colors of the foliage outside. I blended the soup in small batches in a blender (a food processor is best, but we don't have one) and returned it to the pot.

While it was very tasty on its own, I wished for it to be thicker. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the two squash halves sitting on the stove, their sticky maple glaze glistening in the sunlight. I decided to combine forces and blend the squash with the soup. This may have been one of the best decisions I have made in a long, long time.

The soup had a thickness that felt heavy at first, but then each bite melted down onto my tongue releasing the sweetness of the maple and the spiciness of the black pepper like a cloud of taste. The pumpkin was the perfect background, providing a rich nuttiness that was balanced perfectly by the herbs de Provence.

It was fall in every bite.


Roasted Butternut Squash and Pumpkin Soup

Ingredients:

•1 pie pumpkin- skinned, cored, and diced

•1 large butternut squash- roasted (see recipe below)

•1 large onion- diced

•2 cloves of garlic- minced

•2 tablespoons of butter

•3 large carrots- chopped into bite-size pieces

•3-4 cups of chicken stock

•1 tablespoon cinnamon

•1 tablespoon herbs de Provence

•Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, melt the butter and sauté the onion and garlic until the onion turns clear over medium heat (about three minutes). Add pumpkin, carrots and seasoning. Cook until the carrots are almost soft. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Simmer, covered for thirty minutes over medium-low heat. Puree in food processor (or blender) with chunks of roasted squash. You will have to do this in several batches. Salt and pepper to taste.

Roasted Butternut Squash

Ingredients:

•1 large butternut squash- cut in half, lengthwise and seeded

•¼ cup of real maple syrup

•2 tablespoons olive oil

•1 teaspoon cinnamon

•salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place each half of the squash in a baking pan, skin side down. Drizzle with olive oil and maple syrup. Some will run down into the crevices of the squash, this is ok. If you'd like to, you can periodically baste the squash with the collection of juices while it's baking. Sprinkle with cinnamon, salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 30-45 minutes.

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