Today I tapped into the collective conscience and like a lot of people made something with pumpkin / winter squash. While browsing the Internet I saw all things squash……spaetzle, donuts, puddings, soup, cookies, pastas, cakes and muffins. I’m glad that I didn’t recreate a spiced pumpkin latte or a jar of homemade “pumpkin pie” spice. If you have seen my spice cupboard you will know that I don’t need another jar of mixed spices.
Earlier today a coworker had put a bug in my ear to make some butternut squash soup. I make a good curry version. This time I went for something cleaner tasting. To start the soup the first thing that I did was pull out some frozen chicken bones and put them in a large pot of water. Soup tastes so much better with homemade stock! Although with some soups you wouldn’t notice the difference.
Step 1 place some chicken bones in water. Add a few bay leaves and the skins and trimmings from an onion which will come into play later. Onion skins and trimmings lend a golden hue to stocks. Bring this to just under a boil then simmer, don’t let it boil. Boiling makes your stock cloudy and brings out impurities from the bones.
And then I remembered that I had some stock in the freezer. Oh well.
Step 2 While the stock was boiling, I cut a smallish Hubbard squash into 4 large pieces. I had fun using the cleaver.
These squash are amazing; deep orange flesh, thin dark orange skin, with a centre packed full of plump seeds. Squash and pumpkin seeds are tasty. I remember at Halloween my mom would roast some in the oven, hot with salt and oil. I scraped out the seeds and left them in a bowl of water to separate out the stringy flesh from the seeds.
Step 3 Back to the squash itself. Rub some oil on the pieces and add salt and herbs. Fresh herbs if you have them. Thyme, rosemary, sage, but not necessarily all of them. Put it in a 400F oven and roast until soft or nearly soft.
Step 4 Dice the onion and sauté in a pot with butter and oil. In this case it was a tablespoon of previously melted butter that had been sitting on the counter since yesterday. Butter that was saved for a purpose unknown at the time. I added some garlic to the pot and turned off the flame.
Step 5 By this point the squash was ready to be removed from the oven. Carefully scrape the flesh from the skin and into the pot. Add stock to barely cover. Add salt, pepper, and a few strands of saffron for flavor and colour. Add fresh sage and simmer a minute. Purée with a stick blender. Adjust the consistency with more stock or more squash.
The final touches were a few chunks of squash, a drizzle of Camelina oil (non GMO, cold pressed). The oil added an unexpected grassy / herbaceous fragrance like a meadow on a hot summers day.
Serve to hungry people.
Yes, a tasty meal is possible on a weeknight. This whole process took 1 hour and I ate dinner at 6:30. I enjoyed this dinner with my family and the kitchen didn’t have a pile of dirty dishes.
Part II coming soon.