by Dave Lobeck
CNHI News Service
— I don't know how you feel about autumn, but for me, it's my favorite season. It is Mother Nature’s irony that as we approach winter, we benefit from one huge show of colors. Not just the golds and burgundies of the changing leaves, but lawns that have been stressed and beaten down by the humid and harsh summer take on a fresh, green and spring-like color, benefitting from the cool fall nights.
We also take advantage of the final harvest of the year, and this week's column we focus on squash, specifically a creamy squash soup that my wife Liz makes so darn well.
As a kid, I never really liked squash. Now, I love it. Squash was one of the three domesticated crops of the Native Americans. In the same field, they would plant squash, corn and beans. The beans would climb up the corn stalks, which provided shade for the squash. The squash plants would cover the ground, limiting weed growth. The bean plants also provided nitrogen for the soil as the plant died out.
Who needs crop rotation?
Summer squash (zucchini is a good example) is technically a fruit, which is harvested early while it is young and tender. Winter squash is harvested later in the year when the fruit gets larger and firms up. Today's soup uses butternut squash, considered a winter squash.
Creamy Squash Soup
Cut the squash in half (careful – many digits have been sliced cutting raw winter squash) and scoop out seeds with a spoon. If you want to get fancy, you can rinse the seeds and toast them to add to the soup as a crunchy garnish.
Place flesh down (skin side up) on cookie sheets. Place in an oven preheated to 375 degrees. Roast the squash for one hour or until fork tender. Place the apples in the oven when there is 20 minutes of roasting time remaining for the squash. The apples should also be fork tender too. Allow to cool.
Scoop out the squash flesh and place to the side.
Place the butter in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Sauté the onions for a minute or two and then add the garlic. Sauté for another minute or so. Add the broth, roasted squash and roasted apples. Use an immersion blender and blend until smooth. If you don't have an immersion blender, pour into a regular blender, but make sure all ingredients are back to room temperature before blending. Trust me on this. (Volcano?)
Once blended and smooth, place back in sauce pan and warm over medium heat. While warming, add the nutmeg and cayenne pepper, assuming you want a little kick.
Serve with a dollop of sour cream on top, alongside a cold pumpkin beer. Happy autumn!
Dave Lobeck is a barbecue chef from Sellersburg, Ind., who writes the "BBQ My Way" column for CNHI News Service. Visit his website at www.BBQ-My-Way.com.