Friday, January 27, 2012

Spicy Acorn Squash and Apple Soup

Time: Approx. 40 min. total (1 hour 40 min. if need to make veggie broth)
(10 min. prep/ 30 min. cook) (1 hour to make broth, if not pre-made)

1 small apple, peeled and cut into slices
1 small acorn squash, cut in half and seeds scooped out
1-2 green onions, the white parts only
1/2-1 cup broth (I used a veggie broth leftover from boiling yellow squash, that I cooked down)
3 dried tepin chile peppers
1-3 leaves dried golden sage
salt to taste
1-3 Tb of apple cider vinegar (mine is homemade, without added yeast, and it is HARSH. Lemon juice would work)

1. Get a microwave safe dish, fill 1/4 inch with water, and place squash cut-side down in the dish. Nuke that puppy. It took me 8 minutes for this squash, but it was exceptionally small. The outside rind should be very soft and depress easily to the finger when done. Remove and let cool a smidge.
2. Put the apples in a glass bowl, add a couple teaspoons water, and nuke this too. Maybe 30-60 seconds.
3. Scoop out the acorn squash flesh, then put the flesh, the apple, the onion, the broth, and the salt into a blender and blend that puppy until it's a nice consistency.
4. Put on the stove in a saucepan and heat to a simmer. Add the chile peppers and sage. Cook until you like the smell and the texture, about 15 minutes for mine. When you turn off the heat, add the vinegar to taste. Give it a minute to blend before you taste. I don't know why, but it always seems to get just a touch more sour after it's been sitting in the soup for a while, so it's good to be cautious, at first, if you don't want to end up with Vinegar Soup (it's not pretty).

Shauna's Notes:
Inspired by: Having an acorn squash about to bite the dust and remembering that there are an awful lot of recipes with apples, onions, and butternut squash that I've seen around. Then remembering that something sour is often added at the end of a vegetable purée soup. Otherwise, it was just being hungry and not having a lot of food on hand until market day.

What worked: The color was really nice - a bright yellow (this acorn squash had yellow flesh) with flecks of bright red from the chiles. I like the sour tang afterward. It also worked really nice when I added cooked, ground bison meat (with garlic) to it for leftovers the next day. The chile gave it a nice kick, and I liked the small hint of sage, as well.

What didn't work: I didn't blend it well enough so I ended up with watery-with-pulpy-bits rather than a nice purée. The squash being older probably didn't help. The flavor wasn't amazing or anything, just edible without making a face at the thing. The squash was also rather bland, so I think the flavor might have been better with a more flavorful squash. No real flavor difference from the apple, that I could tell.

What could be done to improve it: Something a bit creamy or bitter might have gone nicely with it, or a stronger broth. Maybe. I'm still trying to figure out what goes well together, and can't say that it comes naturally to me at all. If I could have dairy, I think I would have added a strong, plain yogurt rather than the vinegar at the end, or when it was being served, perhaps. Roasting the squash instead of nuking it might have added more depth to the squash taste, too (I think.).

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