Creamy Squash Soup Recipe PLUS a Great Giveaway!

Lucid Food: Cooking For An Eco-Conscious Life, by Louisa Shafia

Yesterday I mentioned my cooking session with Louisa Shafia, author of  the cookbook Lucid Food: Cooking For An Eco-Conscious Life (Ten Speed Press).

Since reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma I’ve been making a real effort to eat with the seasons–choosing what’s available locally right now over foods shipped in from other regions.

I don’t follow this principle to the letter. Bananas are pretty much never in season in Michigan to my knowledge; I still buy them once a month or so (more often when I’m in the mood for banana bread!) But as a general philosophy, eating with the rhythm of the season is the way to go: it’s healthier (you get fresher food with more nutrients intact), better for the environment (less fuel and other resources used to ship foods thousands of miles) and supportive of local farming communities.

So I was so excited to see a cookbook that actually divides up recipes by season! It makes meal planning much easier. And the recipes in Lucid Food are really yummy, simple, colorful and good for you. The book also has helpful information on growing your own food and composting, and helps you make sense of what it really means to eat organically, why buying local is great for you, the environment and your community and more.

Yesterday I made the Creamy Kuri Squash Soup that I’d loved so much during the class. I couldn’t actually find Kuri squash locally, so I picked up a buttercup squash and a turban squash.

Turban squash on left, buttercup squash on right. I have no idea why there’s a wolf sitting on my countertop, but he was good company so I let him stay.

In retrospect the buttercup squash was the better choice. It seemed to be less watery than the turban squash and the flavor was similar to a sweet potato.

Of course, the buttercup squash was also a lot harder to open. During our demonstration, Louisa took a cleaver, gave her squash a confident whack and the thing just split open. I however, have no cleaver, and my sturdiest knife is, as it turns out, just not that sturdy.

That’s as far as it would go.

Lesson learned: invest in better knives.

I improvised by microwaving the entire squash in a covered bowl with a little water in it until the shell softened. Then I split it open and spooned out the flesh with an ice cream scoop.

Did I ever mention I am not the neatest food-prepper?

Alton Brown was right–flexible cutting boards are a must. Thanks to mine, this was actually a snap to clean up.

Want to make Creamy Red Kuri Squash Soup yourself? Here’s the recipe with my commentary.

Here’s what you need:

  • 4 heaping cups coarsely diced squash, seeds removed.
  • 1 quart vegetable stock (You can make your own or buy this premade to save time. I used a product called “Better Than Bullion” because the flavor is better than bullion but it’s cheaper than buying pre-made stock.)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 sweet apple, cored and sliced
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper

Cooking the Squash:

Dealing with the squash is by far the most complicated and time-consuming part of this very simple recipe, so you may want to do this part the night before, early in the morning or at naptime. I’d give yourself about 25 minutes the first time, especially if you aren’t used to cutting up hard squash. Then all you’ll need to bring the whole recipe together at dinnertime is about 15 minutes for sautéing the apples and onions, blending, and re-heating.

If you were able to hack open your squash raw, you’ll need to place the chunks in a large soup pot with the stock and a dash of salt, then bring to a boil. Simmer, covered, until tender–about 15 minutes. Drain the stock and reserve the squash.

If you use the ‘steam in its shell’ method to get the squash open, some of the cooking will already be done for you–so watch the squash closely as it boils for signs of done-ness.

Now drain the squash, reserving the stock for later.

The Rest Of It:

Heat a skillet over high heat and add two tablespoons of the olive oil (or just give the pan a couple “glugs”). Add onion and saute until it begins to brown. Then add the apple, cinnamon, cayenne, and a dash of salt and saute until the apples are soft and lightly browned. (The smell at this point? HEAVENLY.)

Now combine the squash, onion, apple and reserved stock in a blender and puree until smooth (you may have to do this in batches) adding the remaining tablespoon of olive oil as you blend. If you used another kind of squash besides Red Kuri, be careful to monitor how much liquid goes in the soup–a watery squash might need a little less stock. You can also add a little bit of water or more stock if the soup is too thick.  During our demonstration, Louisa used an immersion blender, which I don’t have, but now I’m coveting one–less clean-up, less hassle, awesome.

A dash more salt and it’s all good.

And I mean GOOD. Serve it up hot with a few grinds of black pepper. I also tried dicing a bit of apple on top of my second bowl to bring out the sweetness. It was great both ways.

So yummy smelling, I almost lost the whole bowl to our dog, Moxie.

I served the soup to my kids last night with grilled cheese sandwiches–I figured it would seem more familiar that way. Two of them grudgingly admitted to liking it. The others weren’t so sure. But really, I don’t expect my kids to all love something the first time I give it to them. I’m happy as long as they keep tasting and trying.

As for myself? I had a very nice dinner. Moms deserve food they enjoy, too, don’t you think?

Would you like to WIN a copy of Louisa Shafia’s cookbook, Lucid Food: Cooking For An Eco-Conscious Life? Well, her publisher is going to send a copy to one lucky winner. And I’m going to sweeten the pot.

After experiencing for myself how much easier it is to blend soups with an immersion blender, I’m ordering one of these week after next. And guess what? I’m ordering one for the Lucid Food giveaway winner, too.

You can enter up to three ways for a total of four entries:

  1. Leave a comment telling me what your favorite winter squash is and why. I want to experiment and I’m looking for inspiration!
  2. Post on your blog about the giveaway, then come back and leave a comment with a link to your post.
  3. You all know I’m trying to win great blogging job, right? We’re down to the last six days of round 1, and the competition is fierce. I could REALLY use your help spreading the word. If you mention the contest (with the link to my voting page) on your blog, or put the badge encouraging people to vote for me in your sidebar (you can grab the HTML code from my voting link) , and then come back and comment about it (otherwise I won’t know!) with a link to your blog, that counts as TWO entries. If you enter using this method, please leave TWO comments for THAT entry. The second comment can just say “SAM-e entry #2.” I just want to make absolutely sure you get entered twice as a thank-you for your support!

Here’s some more incentive for you: If I’m back in the top 3 in the SAM-e contest by Wednesday, November 10 (when round 1 ends), I’ll choose TWO winners who will EACH win a book and an immersion blender.

Choose just one entry method, or choose all three methods and get a total of four entries.

You must have a mailing address within the continental United States or Canada to enter. Voting will close on WEDNESDAY, November 10 (My son’s 13th birthday!) at 11:59 PM Eastern Standard Time. The winner will be chosen at random from the comments, using the WordPress Plugin “And The Winner Is.” The winner will be announced by Friday, Nov. 12. (I’d get to it faster, but we’ll be on vacation next week.)

Any questions? Send me an email.

Good luck!

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