Thursday, December 6, 2012

Square Soup (Squash + Pear Soup)

If you know me, you know that the only thing I like more than a good nap is a good portmanteau. And my penchant for portmanteaus extends beyond the obvious ones (“bromance,” “jorts,” “biopic,” etc.). For example, are you gay and also Asian? You’re gaysian. Did you accidentally fart when you sneezed? Gross, you just snarted.

Now, over the past few weeks, the delicata squash situation in my house had become, well, squawful. They just kept coming every week in my Plow to Porch box and I had run out of ideas of how to use them.

At first I tried to turn them into a whimsical centerpiece, but five squash standing in a line looks more awkward than attractive. It wasn’t even much of a conversation starter: “Hey, babe, what are we planning to do with all this squash?” “… Yeah, I don’t know. There are a lot of them, huh?” “Yeah.”

I figured the best way to use up too many of any vegetable is to make a soup. I wanted to make a soup with a bit of sweetness. Fortunately, as it turned out, I had also been compiling a surplus of pears. They were hidden in a drawer in my refrigerator, though, so their presence wasn’t as intrusive as that of the delicata squash.

I realized I could use up all my squash and three of my pears in one go by turning them into Squash Pear Soup. Square Soup.

My soup is only square in name, though: I thought serving it in a square bowl would just be redundant. Also I don’t own any square bowls.

Square Soup

Square soup in a round bowl
5 delicata squash from Jose Alcanta Garcia
3 Bartlett pears from Todd Ranch
1 tablespoon honey from San Marcos Farms
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups chicken broth
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
½ cup evaporated milk

First, I preheated the oven to 350 degrees. While it was heating up, I got to work on the squares. I sliced each one down the middle and brushed it with a little bit of olive oil. Then I arranged the halves on cookie trays, like so:
I popped the trays in the oven for 30 minutes and killed time by deciding on a new, more attractive centerpiece (I went with a single pumpkin).

After 30 minutes, I poked the squash with a fork and it was tender, so I took the trays out of the oven. I let the squares cool down for about 10 minutes, then used a spoon to scoop the flesh (or whatever gross word you want to apply to the inside of a squash or pear) into a blender.

The blender was almost full, but there was room for one cup of chicken broth, which I added to help the mixture liquefy. When it was the consistency of food you could feed someone through a tube, I transferred it from the blender into a pot and added the rest of the chicken broth, the nutmeg, and the honey.

I brought it to a boil on the stove, then let it simmer for 10 minutes. A few minutes before I served it (to myself), I stirred in the evaporated milk and continued to let it simmer.

Finally, my square soup was ready! It tasted different than I expected it to – it was a little spicy from the nutmeg. But the 5:1 squash:pear ratio turned out to be pretty perfect in terms of balancing squashiness and sweetness. And this recipe made about 12 servings, so I’ll be having square soup in a round bowl with my dinner for another week!

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