Wednesday, November 16, 2011

You know you're gonna have to face it, you're addicted to squash


Last night: Hubbard Squash, about to be baked in the oven

If there's one thing we've had a lot of in our home lately, its squash. This from someone who used to find squash tedious and really annoying to prepare. As it turns out, that was really only butternut squash, and since I've been making soups like crazy since becoming mostly vegan, the transition from the tomato & bean laden soups of summer to squash soups of fall (and later, winter) has gone pretty effortlessly.

In fact, it's gone great, particularly since I discovered that we've had an immersion blender since before Scott & I were even dating, and I decided to try it out. It has changed my soup-making life! I feel empowered, and soups turn out better than ever now that I don't have to overload the food processor, get soup everywhere and can take my time blending. Ahhhh. If you don't have an immersion blender I highly suggest that you buy one or put it on your holiday wishlist. 

Anyway. Over the last few weeks I've been experimenting with making soups out of several different kinds of squash: pumpkin, kabocha (my favorite!), kuri and, as of last night, the grey hubbard squash.

What's really amazing to me is how subtly different each squash is. My process is basically the same with each one: first I cut the squash in half and bake it for about an hour. While that's happening, I cut up a bunch of veggies, the type of which varies based on what I have. Last night's soup ended up with garlic (always!), onion (always!), green bell pepper, carrots, a jalapeno (always always always) and mushrooms. 

I always add a ton of spices, which vary depending on what is recommended for the type of squash, but almost always includes cumin (which I'm obsessed with and use in pretty much everything), sea salt, pepper and red pepper flakes (referred to in my family as "sons of bitches" -- yeah, my family is awesome). A carton of veggie stock is also involved. After everything has boiled together for a few minutes I take the immersion blender to it, blend it smooth, add more sea salt & pepper, and serve while hot, topping with green onions (always...these are another thing I'm totally obsessed with). 

Given how similar my process is, I would say the spice combinations as well as the  type of squash used are the two most important elements in changing the flavor. It's fantastic how varied the soups can be. The types of veggies involved obviously have a role to play as well, but its bit more subtle. 

All of my recipes are currently what I'd call "in development" by me, but I'm going to make an effort as the year winds down to get some measurements or hard-ish numbers down for my soup recipes and share some specific processes on this blog. Whether you consider yourself a great cook, a novice or in between, you will be able to make all of my soups. They're easy & absolutely delicious, and all of them are vegan.

Now if you'll excuse me ... I think my next volunteer victim may be an acorn squash...

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