For some reason, squash seems to take the center stage during autumn in the kitchen. I should rephrase that, it becomes more visible, however, most of us, do eat all sorts of squash year round. My friend, Amanda of HeartBeet Kitchen addresses just this, in her wonderful and informative new cookbook, Smitten with Squash . Not only does she share a wonderful collection of recipes but she also discusses easier ways to prepare and cook different members of this delicious and diverse family.
When I received her book a few weeks ago, I was immediately drawn to the sheer amount of helpful information on the different types of squashes and maintaining them, from how to select the best kind, to best the way in preparing them to cook.
Amanda has come up with a collection of unique recipes that all utilize squashes in some sort of tasty way in her book, from savory to sweet there's something to satisfy everyone tastebuds. But since the weather is cooling down, and in some places faster than others (though not as much here in Northern California), I thought it would be perfect to share this simple yet delicious warm and comforting acorn squash soup from Amanda's book. There's roasting, caramelizing, and puréeing followed by sessions of eager eating of copious amount of this vibrant and tasty soup. This acorn squash soup has mild notes of a gentle sweetness from the caramelized onions mixed in with the silky and buttery texture of the acorn squash and then there's the little topping of toasted nuts. The acorn squash recipe originally called for pecans but I ran out and ended up using salted pistachios instead, they worked perfectly!
Folks, Amanda is giving away a copy of her cookbook, Smitten with Squash to one lucky reader! Leave a comment below to tell me what's the most innovative dish you've made with squash and I will pick the best one! The giveaway is open to legal residents of the United States only and will end a week from now on October 22, 2014.
caramelized onion and acorn squash soup (from the Smitten with Squash Cookbook by Amanda Paa)
yields: 4 servings
1 lb acorn squash, halved, de-seeded
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 (1 lb) medium yellow or white onions, halved and thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon kosher sea salt
2 cups low sodium vegetable (or chicken) stock
3/4 cup buttermilk or whole milk
1 teaspoon kosher sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1/4 cup salted toasted pistachios (or pecans), coarsely chopped
1. Place a wire rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400F. Remove any stringy material that might be present in the squash after it is deseeded. Brush the surface of the flesh of the squash halves with the vegetable oil. Place the squash halves on a baking sheet with cut side upwards, roast in the oven for about 40 minutes or until the flesh is tender and easily pierced by a fork. Remove the pulp with a spoon and keep aside until ready to use.
2. While the squash continues to roast in the oven, heat a wide, thick-bottomed stainless steel skillet (I used a cast-iron skillet) over medium heat, add the butter and allow to melt. Scatter the onion slices evenly over the pan. Cook for 5 minutes, without stirring to brown, then stir and spread the onions to "sweat" and release their moisture content. After about 10 minutes, most of the released liquid should evaporate, add the salt and stir. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook for 30 minutes, stirring often to ensure the onions don't burn. When the onions are a uniform brown color, they are done.
3. Pour in 1 cup of the stock and scrape the sides of the pan with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula to release any bits and flavors from the onions. Transfer the contents of the pan to a blender (or use an immersion blender) and blend on medium speed for about a minute. Add the rest of the broth, half of the squash flesh and puree again for one minute. Then add the buttermilk and rest of the squash, purée until silky smooth. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if needed. Before serving garnish each bowl of warm soup with a tablespoon of the pistachios.