We got our first winter CSA distribution this weekend. For us, these distributions are like Christmas. The excitement is palpable as we unpack our boxes. We lay all the vegetables and fruit out on the kitchen island and ooo and ahh over the bounty. You might here things such as, “Yay, we got turnips” and, “awesome, we finally have leeks… It’s been too long since we’ve had leeks.” Trying to eat seasonally means that we haven’t really enjoyed many of these veggies since last fall.
Our first order of business (after the vegetable fawning) was to put together a soup using a very large butternut squash we had from our last summer distribution, some of the great ingredients we got from our winter share (celery, onion, carrots), and the last of our smoked chicken stock that we made this summer. The soup is a thick, stick-to-your-ribs kind of soup. It is nice as a first course and equally good as the meal. Roasting the squash and garlic sweetens and intensifies the flavors of both vegetables. The soup takes a little while because of the roasting, but is simple to put together.
1 large butternut squash (2-3 lbs)
2 tbls vegetable oil
1 small-to-medium head of garlic
2 tbls butter
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 small carrots, chopped
4 celery ribs, chopped
3 cups chicken stock
4 cups water
1 1/2 tsp oregano
1 1/2 tsp thyme
2 tbls honey
2 tbls lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup half-and-half*
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Peel and halve the squash. Scoop out the seeds (discard) and roughly chop the squash. Toss the squash chunks with the oil, spread on a cookie sheet, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast the squash until tender, about 60 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the top off of the head of garlic. Drizzle with olive oil, place in a small baking dish, and cover tightly with foil. Roast in the oven (with the squash) for about 30 minutes or until softened and lightly browned.
While the squash and garlic are roasting, heat a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the chopped onions, carrots, and celery and saute until softened and golden, about 25 minutes. Add the stock, water, oregano, thyme, garlic cloves, and squash. Bring to a gentle boil and let simmer for about 10 minutes.
Using a stick blender or a regular blender, puree the soup until smooth (be sure to puree in batches if using a traditional blender and watch out for steam). Stir in the honey and lemon juice and cook for 5 minutes to blend the flavors. Right before serving, remove from heat and stir in the half and half.
Serves 8 as a soup course, 4-6 as a main course
* If you wanted a lower calorie soup, you could substitute buttermilk for the half-and-half, just omit the lemon juice.