When I went to Austin a couple of weeks ago, one of the last things I did before heading home was hit up Central Market. For one, I needed more coffee, and I love their selection. But their produce section…mmm! Fascinates me every time.
This time around, they had locally grown gourds and pumpkins and winter squash everywhere! EVERYWHERE! Any they were so pretty. My first instinct was to go on a pumpkin shopping spree, and I don’t even like pumpkin. I think pumpkin pie is the devil!
My first choices were these freaky little green things, but they were stuck at the bottom of the pile, and I would’ve toppled the display over if I’d pulled them out. Instead, I bought these, whatever they are. They’re about the size of my hand:
Is it a squash? Is it a gourd? Are squashes gourds? I dunno. But I bought three. (For the record, I think it’s squash, hence the title.)
Last night I cooked these suckers. I adapted the Fundamental Squash Soup recipe from Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen (awesome cookbook, btw), and turned it into my own creation, Squashed Potato Soup:
It was so. good. And filling. (And I love bread; don’t judge me.)
- winter squash of your choice (I used all three of mine)
- 2 big Russet potatoes
- 1 large onion
- olive oil
- dried thyme
- dried rosemary
- dried oregano (or fresh everything, if you’re the fancy type)
- Gruyère cheese
- bread for croutons (I used a French loaf)
- a blender
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel potatoes, slice them into large chunks, and dump them in a stockpot with about 2 quarts of water. Start boiling.
- Cut squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, and put seeds into the water with the potatoes. Put the squash face up on a cookie sheet, brush with olive oil, and stick them in the oven until they get soft (about 20-25 minutes depending on how big the squash is).
- Cut an onion in half, slice it, and stick the sliced half into the pot with the potatoes and seeds. Stir in 1/4 tsp of dried thyme, and let everything boil until the potatoes get soft (about 30 minutes). This is your stock.
- While everything’s cooking, chop up your bread into bite-sized croutons and set aside.
- Finely dice the other half of the onion. Heat up 2 tbs of butter in a soup pot. Toss in the onion, a big pinch of rosemary, about 1/2 a tsp of oregano, and 1/4 tsp of thyme. Saute on low heat until the onions get soft and brown (about 20 minutes).
- Scoop the flesh of the squash into a large bowl and set aside.
- Now’s the kind of annoying part: once the potatoes are done, skim the top of the stock with a big slotted spoon to catch as many seeds as you can. You don’t need the seeds or the boiled onion anymore, so do whatever you want with them.
- Put a colander on top of a large bowl and dump the stock in there to strain it. Put the potatoes in the bowl with your squash, but careful not to put all those seeds in there (and I repeat: the seeds are annoying). There’s probably an easier way to do this, but I was winging it.
- Mash the potato and squash together, then toss in your sautéed onions. Add 1 1/2 tsp of salt, and pepper to taste. Mix/mash all of that together, and start adding stock to get it to the consistency you want. Mine kinda reminded me of thick, semi-chunky baby food at that point.
- Puree everything in a blender. I did mine in two batches. Transfer it back to the soup pot, and heat it back up at a low temperature. You can add more stock if the soup is too thick.
- Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil and 1 tbsp of butter in a pan, then add in your chunks of bread. Cook for about 5 minutes, tossing occasionally.
- Serve and garnish with croutons and shredded Gruyère.
Yields: about 8-10 servings
I roasted brussels sprouts and mushrooms as a side dish, but next time I think this will go really well with a small salad and a glass of white wine. Yum.