A Wicked Scoff...Recipes and Food with Newfoundland and New England Influences.

This blog is dedicated to bring recipes, photographs, anecdotes, reviews and other insights on everything food related. As the name suggests, "A Wicked Scoff" will have a regional flare, a fusion if you will, of both Newfoundland and New England perspectives of the culinary world around me. Thanks for visiting and please come back often as updates will be frequent. Oh yeah, I also like tasting and cooking with regional beers. Expect a beer of the month, often paired with recipes.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Growing up in rural Newfoundland, I didn't eat a lot of squash. In fact, I didn't eat any squash or a lot of "exotic" vegetables. Our vegetable intake consisted of what was grown locally (potatoes, carrots, rutabaga, cabbage, beets, turnip greens), cans (peas, tomatoes and corn), frozen (broccoli, peas, brussel sprouts, spinach) and what the local grocery had (iceberg lettuce, tomatoes wrapped in cellophane and green peppers). Nowadays, markets all over Newfoundland carry the same produce as you would find in any market here in New England, bok choy and lemon grass included. I bet there are also many Newfoundlander's who grow there own variety of squashes. I myself grow butternut squash and the availability of this variety at local farmer stands has become one of my new favorite things about fall. So far this season I must have made three pots of butternut squash soup. In the past I've simply simmered the raw squash in chicken stock as a way to start the soup, but now I pre-roast the squash. The difference is noticeable and am I sold on this method. The squash develops much more flavor and gets slightly carmelized around its edges, which really adds depth to the final product.

For my version of this classic soup, I keep it fairly simple. I cut the squash in half and roast it. I saute an onion and a little garlic, add the cooked squash, top it off with chicken stock, and puree. Sometimes I add a splash of seasonal autumn beer, and I always add a few glugs of pure Massachusetts maple syrup. Seasoned with salt and pepper, topped with carmelized shallots and a sprinkle of freshly chopped herbs and you're all set! This makes a great first course for a weekend meal. Add a pan seared scallop to the mix and you have an elegant and more hearty lunch.

Here's how I put it all together.

Preheat your oven to 400 and drizzle a little olive on a baking sheet.
Cut 1 large (or 2 smaller) butternut squash in half and remove the seeds.
Lay cut side down on the oiled pan and roast until tender, about 45 minute to an hour.
Let cool until you can handle them and scoop out the pulp.

It is also a good idea to warp a few cloves of garlic in tin foil with a drop of oil, and toss it in the oven with the squash. After about 20-30 minutes you'll have wonderfully roasted garlic that will be mellow, sweet and flavorful...and a great addition to the soup.

While the squash is roasting, you can prep the base of the soup, which is carmelized onion.

In a Dutch Oven or pot, set over a medium heat, add:
- 2 Tbsp of butter
- 2 Tbsp of olive oil
- 1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced (or the whites of two leeks, or a combination of the two)
Saute for a few minutes, and reduce heat to medium-low and let the onions/leeks develop some caramalization.

Before adding the scooped out squash pulp, increase the heat to medium high and deglaze the pot with a half a cup of ale (beer). I used a Sam Adams Oktoberfest which contains some fall spices. A pumpkin ale would also be great. If you don't have those use a brown/red ale, or just use chicken stock.

Add the pulp and a couple of cloves of roasted garlic and then add enough chicken stock to just cover the squash, about 4 cups.

Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Use a hand wand mixer to puree the soup until it is smooth (you can do it in batches in a blender if you do not have one). Add an additional 2 cups of chicken stock and about a 1/4 cup of pure maple syrup. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Ladle into warm bowls and garnish with a drizzle of maple syrup and some carmelized onions or shallots, along with some chopped herbs. I like parsley and/or chives.

Soups up!

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