Now that fall is here to stay, i love the color of the light this time of the year, it looks pale yellow, and it casts a warm glow to everything. The only thing that i don't like, is when the sun sets. I love the colors of the sunset, but the dusk feels so sad, sudden and overwhelming when i barely leave work to go home.
Reading the pages from Saveur the other night, made me dream of the beautiful time to come, the cozy warm nights at home and the wonderful foods of the season. And most of all, made me miss Romania and my family, and it brought so many memories back. If i would have been born here, used to seeing the ocean and plam trees all year long, i wouldn't probably miss fall or winter. At least, I am happy that the last street on the way to my job is probably one of the few streets in west LA that have beautiful shedding trees, some sort of maples with a white bark, which now look pretty yellow and are getting ready to strip. I love to see them every day and i cannot believe how beautiful they are. Both blocks to the left and right of them have really tall palms, bending in the wind, just like you see everywhere in this city.
3 tablespoons oil
Half of a large onion, chopped
2 carrots, shredded or chopped
1 parsnip, shredded or chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
1 bay leaf
3 lbs butternut squash, either cut in half and seeded, or peeled, seeded and cut into cubes
5 cups chicken or vegetable broth, or water (about 1 quart/1 liter)
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/4 teaspoon all spice
salt and pepper
1 cup tomato sauce or 2 tablespoons Polish or Romanian borsch (borscht) concentrate
toppings: heavy cream or sour cream , chives, beet chips and toasted almonds slivers
Preheat oven at 375F (190C). I cut the butternut squash in half, lengthwise, and seeded them, but you could also peel them, remove the seeds and cut the squash in cubes. Put the halves or cubes in a baking dish or roasting pan and bake them for about 45 minutes to an hour, until softened and caramelized. The roasting intensifies the flavor and also the orange color.
Saute the onion, carrots, parsnip, celery and bay leaf in a medium 2-3 qt pot, over medium heat, until softened.
Pour over the broth and let it boil about 10-15 minutes, then add the squash (if baked in halves, spoon out the flesh and throw the peel), the tomato sauce or borscht powder, the nutmeg, ginger, all spice, salt & pepper and let it simmer, covered, for about 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaf.
Puree the soup in batches in a blender, until smooth (cover the lid with a kitchen towel to hold the blender and to avoid any burning accidents). Return the soup to the pot and thin with water or broth if it’s too thick.
Serve hot with a drizzle of cream, beet chips, toasted almonds and chives.