“You really don’t have to like squash,” Ellen tried to reassure me as I scooped the innards out of a piping hot butternut squash with more speed than care.
“I know,” I replied in irritation as I waved my hand briskly in the air, trying to cool it down. I ran it under water for a moment, and then returned to scooping out my squash, this time with more care and less speed.
As Ellen knew, my squash trials began when my mother sent me a letter. Included in that letter was the recipe – her favorite of that week’s batch in the local paper – “Oven-Roasted Vegetables Glazed with Apple Cider, Dried Cranberries and Pumpkin Seeds” [ http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11321/1190303-34.stm#ixzz1jlyIsCXe
] and her excited comments on its success. As far as I can recall, the only squash my mom ever brought into the house were decorative gourds. Given her history, I took this new-found enthusiasm for squash as an indicator of a truly fantastic recipe. Given, the recipe my mom sent me was not quite as she’d found it. My mom can make any dish, or a facsimile of it, from what is already stocked in the pantry. The actual recipe she sent me was marked up to be user-friendly and pantry-conscious. So inspired, I set out to replicate my mother’s success; therein was my downfall.
I made the squash, following a mix of the recipe’s directives and my mom’s helpful hints and shortcuts. The best report of the dish is that it was quite edible. I was not deterred, though I did give away the remainder of the sqash. With my mom’s enthusiasm still running high, I decided to give her new favorite fruit a second chance. This time, it would become a hard-to-disappoint-dish: soup.
As I stood in the kitchen pureeing my Savory Squash Soup, surrounded by dishes I’d dirtied in the process, Ellen again reassured me that I did not need to like squash. When I confessed that I already maintained an active dislike of the fruit, she suggested I stop buying it. My protests that soup would be different made no impression on her wary gaze.
“If I don’t like this, I’ll stop,” I said, probably unconvincingly. “Or I’ll try a different squash soup.” The Savory Squash Soup was excellent, but if it hadn’t been the Sweet Potato and/or Squash Soup a friend made later that day would have kept me buying, and eating, squash.
Savory Squash Soup
1 acorn squash
1 butternut squash
oil as needed
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2-5 cups vegetable broth, as per desired thickness
1 tsp curry
salt to taste
red pepper flakes to taste
Cut squash in half, de-seed. Roast on oiled pan for 45 minutes at 425. Sautee onions; remove squash from oven and scoop innards into sauteed onions. Add vegetable broth, curry, salt, and pepper. Bring mixture to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer for five minutes. Puree mixture until smooth, heat five minutes more and serve.
Sweet Potato and/or Squash Soup
1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp margarine
1 1/2 c vegetable broth
1 tbsp light brown sugar
1 1/2 c cooked and mashed sweet potatoes can be replaced in part of full with squash
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup soymilk
Over a medium flame, stir together flour and butter in a soup pot. Stir constantly until roux achieves a light caramel color. Add the broth and brown sugar, bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Stir in the sweet potatoes/squash and spices, bring to a boil again and cook for 5 minutes. In a blender, puree the soup then return it to the pot. Add soymilk, reheat soup; season with salt and pepper.
Moral to the story: listen to your mother.