Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Hard Nut to Crack

By “nut” I mean squash, and by crack I mean “cut.” I suppose the title would be much more clever and relevant if I was trying to cut a butternut squash (get it, nut…crack) but alas, it was an acorn squash, and after a super-duper busy week at work, my creativity is just about zapped. But anyway, back to that squash.

I had an acorn squash lying around, so I decided to make soup. Now, I’ve made plenty of butternut squash soups, but this was my first acorn squash soup. Also, even though I have cooked them (baked with butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon) it’s been awhile. Maybe I’m far wimpier than I used to be, or perhaps I had just completely forgotten about all the hard work prior to the delicious outcome…but let me tell ya, those things are a mother-effer to cut through! After several attempts to saw it in half, a few near finger amputations, and some serious machete-style action, I finally had to call Evan into the room to give it a go. He even struggled. Then once that bastard was halved, I thought peeling and cubing it would be a breeze. It was not. I had to roast it for about 15 minutes to get the damn thing soft enough to cut through. Next time, since I’ll plan on roasting from the get-go, I might even add some oil and spices while it softens, but this time around, I just wanted to get a knife through it. So, unless you have a chainsaw in your kitchen, I would recommend briefly roasting, and then cubing and peeling your acorn squash.

After that ordeal, however, the soup really was a breeze. I love basic winter-squash soups, because you can really follow a basic formula and adjust as you go. First, chop and sauté one medium sized yellow onion in a little bit of olive oil, and butter if you prefer. Once the onions were translucent, I added some toasted cumin seeds and garlic. Then, while my solid-as-steel squash roasted, I (effortlessly) peeled and cubed a sweet potato, and threw that into the mix. Finally, I was able to get the acorn squash into the pot, and I let it all meld together for a few minutes. Next, I added about 4 cups of chicken broth, and let everything simmer until the squash and sweet potatoes were fork-tender. Into the blender (in 3 batches) it all went, pureed until smooth. With the last batch, I added about a half-cup of roasted tomatoes before blending (canned tomatoes or tomato puree would also work). Finally, while the puree warmed on the stove, I lightly toasted a spoonful of mustard seeds and cumin seeds, to sprinkle on top. And there you have it. Roasted acorn squash and sweet potato soup.
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