Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Acorn Squash Soup

Our neighbor knocked on the door Friday afternoon.  "I just got back from my little piece of earth and found these ready for the picking" he smiled.  His "little piece of earth" is his farm about twenty miles south of here.  Most of the farm is leased out to a corn and soybean farmer.  Our neighbor has kept ten acres which he and his wife have turned into a remarkable retreat.  There are native flora and fauna that one can view from trails they've cleared with paths large enough to ride a golf cart through.  They have two carts and delight in driving guests from the city around.  There's a pond with a small area for picnics.  The old farm house is as it was a hundred years ago--filled with old treasures.  There is no electricity or running water.  A big pump, attached to a deep well is outside the kitchen door.  There is an "outhouse" surrounded by flowering beds of zinnias.  It's quiet and peaceful.

The bag I was handed by the farmer contained, among other things, five beautiful acorn squash.  The chill in the air dictated turning them into soup.  The hardest part about this soup is cutting the squash in half.  After that, it's a cinch--and a delicious bowl.

(Inspiration from Guy Fieri/Tweaking by Bonnie)

3 acorn squash, halved
6 large shallots peeled, 3 left whole and 3 thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves, peeled
3 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
2 tbsp butter
4 cups chicken stock
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup half and half
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds.  Cut a flat spot on each half so they will sit flat.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  In three of the halves, place a whole shallot.  In the other three halves, place a clove of garlic.  Drizzle all with one tablespoon of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Roast until very tender and starting to caramelize--about one hour.  Allow to cool.

In a large, heavy pan heat one tablespoon of the olive oil and the butter.  Add the raw diced shallots and saute until they start to caramelize.  Deglaze the pan with one cup of the stock.  Reduce the heat to medium low and add the squash, roasted shallots and roasted garlic.  Stir in the remainder of the chicken stock and the cayenne pepper and simmer for twenty minutes.

Stir in the half and half and the Worcestershire sauce.  Puree the soup with a handheld blender or in a food processor.