Jeanette - Off The Cuff

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Blogger at: http://offthecuffhome.blogspot.com and http://offthecuffcooking.blogspot.com -- My name is Jeanette, and I was born in Sweden, but unlike the famous Muppet, I am not a professional Swedish Chef. I actually studied design and photography. I also was a freelance indie-rock critic for several magazines from 1998-2005, and had an in-house PR company for a while. Cooking is in my DNA--my dad's brother was a chef and their father was a pastry chef, my mom's mother was a caterer, who published a cookbook of traditional Finnish breads and pastries when she was 92. Everyone else in my family loves to cook, and we're not afraid to experiment. I have a yen for interior design and remodeling.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Acorn Squash Soup

11-2010 007 The weather here has been downright stormy, blustery and rainy this week.  It is definitely soup weather, and all I could think of today was a big pot of squash soup.  I had a big acorn squash (a rather large one—easily the size of a small melon) and recently I learned, thanks to The Pioneer Woman's spaghetti squash recipe, that a squash does NOT have to be steamed or even cut up to be perfectly roasted.  In fact, it’s so amazingly caramelized and delicious when leaving the whole squash intact while roasting it.  Another bonus of this method is that you don’t have to risk life and limb hacking into a round, rolling, rock-hard squash with a kitchen knife.
I have seen and tried and perused a variety of squash soups, (this one for instance looks really good, too:  Butternut Squash Soup with Sage) and thought I would experiment with some other spice-combinations.  I kept it very simple with the ingredients so that I just let the savory squash do it’s own talking.
So here goes!

INGREDIENTS:
1 large acorn squash or 2 smaller ones – place squash in oven-safe baking dish at 425 degrees for about 45 to 1 hr, until it is easily pierced with a fork.
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
1 onion, finely diced
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 – 2 cups low sodium chicken broth (or veggie broth if you prefer)
1-2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp nutmeg (more to taste)
1 tsp salt ( more to taste)
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
2+ cups water
2/3 – 3/4 cup cream
While the squash is roasting, finely dice the carrot and onion, and sautee it for a few minutes at the bottom of a large wide bottomed soup-pot.   Add chicken broth to deglaze the bottom of the pot when veggies start to soften a little.  Cover with a lid to continue steaming at medium heat to soften the carrots up more.  Allow to simmer on low heat if needed until the squash in the oven is done roasting. 
When the squash was pierced by a fork easily, I used tongs and a knife on a cutting board to hold the hot squash so I could cut it it into halves, and then scoop out the seeds.  After that I cut it into smaller segments, and peeled off the softened rind.  If you don’t have good tongs, you could use an oven mitt to hold the hot gourd while you slice it open.  Either way, don’t burn yourself while working.
Put the roasted squash into the pot with the chicken broth / carrot and onion.  Now, add seasonings, and stir in. 
If you have an immersion blender, use it now to puree the soup.  However, my immersion blender recently broke, so I used the food processor instead, ladling a few scoops at a time into the bowl of my food processor, pulsing until smooth, and then pouring into another soup pot or bowl until all of it has been processed.   Stir in extra water until the thickness is as desired, and bring heat up again, and when the soup is simmering again, add cream.
Top with crumbled feta cheese, and serve with a nice crusty bread.
PS. Sorry about the lack of pictures… but we all know how to chop onions and dice carrots, I think…

2 comments:

  1. sounds SO tasty!! I've never tried roasting a whole squash - can't wait to do it!

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  2. I always thought the squash would blow up if I hadn't cut it in half. It didn't occur to me that it was even possible, but once I saw that on Pioneer Woman, I thought-- there's NO going back now. It saves SO much time and effort. I used to halve them and steam them face down in a water bath, but they always got sort of mushy and flavorless. This is a huge difference in taste, texture and ease.

    I love how there are millions of types of Squash soup recipes, out there, too! I don't know if mine is particularly original, but I really liked the pairing of the smoked paprika and nutmeg. Next time I might try tossing in a little pinch of cloves or cinnamon, too.

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