Monday, October 5, 2009

Accepting and loving autumn

I decided some years ago to surrender to the fight against the seasons and more particularly against Weather. 2 pages into a favorite CS Lewis-under-read-classic, you'll find a lovely dialogue between husband and wife about how fantastic weather is.  And ever since that day, I've aligned myself with the lovely Jane.  She says, perhaps now in my own words than hers: Will your attitude of the rain or wind or clouds or even sun make them fade?  No dear, not even in your most frustrated moments should you wish you had that kind of power.  Plus, there's something absolutely incredible that in our hyper-controlled microcosms we can't do anything about Weather.  And to be quite frank, I think that at the end of a long summer, when we've spent hours outside in the sun, running here and there, seeing lots of music outside, biking, running, partying on rooftops and the like, we're all due for a nice quiet night inside, we need a sometimes gentle, sometimes fierce suggestion from our Weather friends. 

As I shift from the endless vegetannual cornucopia of summer into fall harvest, I again fall in love with Weather and season.  I pine for soup, tights, college football and the color orange all paired with chill crisp air, warm gusts of wind, drizzly grey days and frost on the leaves that lay crushed against the curb.  And when those the dreary, weather-worn friends and colleagues wimper in the face of a 62 degree day and complain that Chicago has only two seasons a little smile forms on the right side of my mouth. I'll take the transition be it 3 months, 2 weeks or 4 days I'll take every last day of fall I can get.

Naturally, as one who organizes seasons in flavors and shapes of produce: the squash, hearty greens, root vegetables and hard fruits that litter my market this time of year, bring smile after smile to my face.  So bring on the houndstooth, the potatoes and the rubber boots.  This summertime party girl is ready for a night of folk, candlelight and soup:

Roasted Masala Butternut Squash Soup

 8 cups peeled, cubed butternut squash (about 2 medium)
3 T canola oil, divided
2 T maple syrup
1 1/2 t garam masala
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper
Cooking spray
1/2 c diced shallots
4 cups peeled, chopped apples - I used a variety of 3 different kinds
1 cup white wine
2 cups water
1- 14oz can non-fat, low sodium chicken stock
2 T non-fat half & half

Preheat oven to 400.  In a big bowl, combine squash, 2 T oil, syrup, garam masala, salt & pepper. Grease a jelly roll pan and arrange squash on a single layer.  Bake for 40 minutes or until squash is tender.

Sautee 1 T oil and shallots in a large skillet for 2 minutes, or until golden brown.  Add apples and sautee for another 5  minutes, or until browned, stirring frequently. Add white wine, squash mixture-- be sure to get all of the browned, roasted bits from the pan.  Add water and stock and simmer for 10 minutes.

Using a food processor, taking small batches at a time, blend until smooth.  If you're named Alistair and don't like bits in soup, run your soup through a colander and return to pan, or skip this step and live with a few apple and squash chunks (I like my soup like I like my mashed potatoes-- a little lumpy so you know it's homemade) return the whole mixture to the pan.  Add half & half and simmer for another 2 minutes to reheat.  If while blending, your soup has gotten a little thicker than you like, keep simmering and add water 1/4 cup at a time, until you reach your desired consistency. 

Serve with warm brown bread (or kick ass beer bread if you have someone spicy to make it for you) and Gruyere cheese.  Possibly with a mixed greens salad with light vinaigrette dressing.  Nothing too heavy since this is a pretty substantial sweet/savory soup and you don't want to compete.
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  1. Butternut squash is my favorite! Thank you for your sharing this recipe!

  2. So many good soups posted. This one looks great.

  3. Thanks ladies! Jessica, I love your soup share idea and couldn't resist!

    Judy, you're a hobby farmer in N. Illinois?! That's my dream life for 30 years from now... or maybe tomorrow...