“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the Fall.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Whether you agree with Fitzgerald or not, there is no denying the beauty of the season. Many travel long distances to view the spectacle of the autumn foliage, but I can’t help thinking, the appearance of so many varieties of squash and gourds is equally exciting. I cannot resist the urge to search roadside stands, pumpkin patches and farmers markets hunting for the ones with the most interesting colors, shapes, character and, of course, warts, the more the merrier. On display everywhere, they speak to me as I gather them for decorating and culinary purposes. They keep me smiling until Thanksgiving when they take leave and make room for Santa. Recently, I heard someone say, “My favorite color is definitely October.” I must concur, it is mine as well.
While listening to an interview with one of my favorite authors and food personalities, Ruth Reichl, I was inspired to makes today’s featured recipe. Promoting her most recent book, My Kitchen Year, 136 Recipes That Saved My Life, she spoke of feeling wounded and a bit paralyzed after Gourmet Magazine, where she served as editor-in-chief for 10 years, abruptly stopped its publication. Needing to heal, she took to the kitchen and started cooking some of her favorite and comforting recipes, one of which was squash soup. She so lovingly spoke of its creamy texture and natural sweetness that I couldn’t resist picking up a butternut squash and making the soup that night. A simple recipe, with no fancy ingredients, it was like eating the season.
Here is how it went down.
BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP Serves 4-6 as first course
Shopping list: 1 stalk celery, 2 carrots, 1 pound butternut squash, 1/2 pound potatoes
- Begin by coarsely chopping an onion, a stalk of celery and 2 carrots; you don’t have to be fussy about this since you’re going to end up pureeing everything.
- Slick the bottom of a Dutch oven or soup pot with olive oil, add the vegetables and let them tumble into tenderness over medium heat, which should take about ten minutes
- Peel a pound of butternut squash and cut it into 3/4 inch or so cubes.
- Peel half pound of waxy potatoes (Yukon Golds are good), and cut into chunks of the same size.
- Stir them into the vegetables in the pot, add a couple teaspoons of sea salt and 2 1/2 cups of boiling water, cover and simmer until everything is very soft. This will take about half an hour
- Very carefully puree the soup in a blender, in small batches, making sure the top of the blender is secure (hot soup can be painful)
- Taste for seasoning and serve drizzled with a few drops of olive oil and/or good balsamic vinegar. A crisp dice of apples on top makes this look lovely and adds a very pleasing note of sweetness. (Diced pickled walnuts also make a wonderful topping.)
As usual, I made a couple of changes by garnishing with sherry vinegar (just because I love it), extra-virgin olive oil (good quality finishing oil), and a sprinkle of fresh herb. I do love her idea of diced apple for a topping but I didn’t happen to have one, so next time. Also, most often when I make a pureed soup, I simplify the process by using an immersion blender as opposed to a standing one. So much less fuss and clean up. If you do not already own one of these handy tools, I would highly recommend you get one. You will thank me.
In my neighborhood, October marks the peak of fall color for the leaves as well as the harvest. If this is true where you live, please make time to fully appreciate and enjoy the artistry of nature. The palette of the most famed artist cannot compare. Whatever your favorite seasonal activities are, share them with your most cherished and keep spreading the love, one seasonal dish at a time. I am so happy to share my world with you. It is 77 degrees here today, so I think a scenic dog walk is in order. Until next time, sending love to you and yours. Jeanne