November 6, 2008

Butternut squash soup - Supa crema de dovleac

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.

I was reading the last number from Saveur, and i was carried away by the article "In The Heart of France" wrote by by David McAninch (here is the article from their website). I haven't been to France yet, but i would love to go, especially to see the country side, to see if what i imagine France to be like and smell like is real or not, and to see the charm of this place as described in this article and its pictures, because it was more enchanting to me than so many others seen until now. Of course i still want to see Paris, walk around until my legs hurt and taste the amazing macarons, it wouldn't be France without them.
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.

Although i don't have a favorite season, i have things that i love about each. For fall is Thanksgiving, apple and pumpkin pies, cinnamon and spices, the thick and warm soups and stews, which make you feel warm and make your house smell amazing.
When i saw the butternut squash at the market, i knew immediately that i want to make a soup out of it. I brought it home, excited, and told Gabriel what i was planning to make and he smiled and said : "sure, pumpkin soup is what i wished for all my life, that's food to crave for...." I rolled my eyes at him, and decided that i will make it anyway. I like pureed soups and i like roasted butternut squash, but i never used it for soup before. I only made soup with the mexican squash and italian zucchinis and i knew they were ok with that, so decided to give it a try.
Last night, i made the soup, not planning to add to many things to it, because i wanted to taste like squash mainly. So, after i pureed it, i tasted it and didn't like it at all. And if i don't like it, then for sure Clara and Gabi wouldn't eat more than a spoon. It was too sweet, more like baby food, and i don't say that i a good way.
That's how i decided to make it a bit more savory and add some flavors, and picked out nutmeg, ginger and all spice. To cut down the sweetness, i used the borsch powder, which i have found at the Polish store from Santa Monica, and also got more from my mom. But i found a recipe on the Saveur's website for the squash soup and they suggest canned tomatoes, which i am sure would have worked just fine if i didn't have the borsch.
Now, about the borsch (Romanian "bors"). Here is a link from wikipedia, where it explains that the Romanian bors is a sour soup, not the same with the Russian, German or Polish soups, and all the others. The powder that i am talking about is a concentrate, like the chicken or beef bouillon cubes. There is a veggie one and a white (from sour cream) one.
The beet chips - i made them for Clara last night. She loves the ones i get from Trader Joe's, made from beets, yams, parsnips, and other root vegetables, so i bought 4 beets, peeled and sliced them really thin and baked them for about 45 minutes at 250 F, just sprinkled with salt, until dried. Clara helped with them, loving the stains on her fingers and bragging how she eats healthy chips, without any oil or preservatives. Plus that she learned the word crimson last week, and she kept on saying how the beets have this wonderful crimson color :)))). I was happy, because she is not a big fan of beets, never ate them roasted or boiled, only when i added them to a soup, so she doesn't know about it. We'll make some more this weekend and i'll take some pictures.
I also added some toasted almond slivers to the soup, but after I took the photo, and i loved the crunch and nutty flavor brought to the soup.
Clara and Gabi ate a little, but still didn't like it. What was that they didn't like? "that it wasn't chicken noodle or any meat and veggies kind of soup. " "but I used chicken broth to make it..." "but the meat taste is not there, nor any meat pieces...." "but you could make it again for yourself, mom, maybe not this much, and something else for us?!"
So, unless i find someone else to eat this with me, i am not going to make it again soon, even though it was really good. In the meantime, chicken noodle and other meat and veggie soups.

Butternut squash soup

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.


Supa crema de dovleac


Unknown said...

Roxana, sper ca esti bine sanatoasa!

roxana said...

irina drag, multumesc mult de intrebare si gandurile bune. Am fost putin bolnava, dar de cateva zile sunt mai bine, ma pun pe picioare, sper eu ca sunt gata cu toate figurile si sa-mi recapat energia si puterile pentru sarbatori. Poate spre sfarsit de saptamana sa mai postez ceva ca am adunat destule, dar nu apucat sa ma ocup de ele deloc. Nici macar sa citesc ce au scris altii nu am fost in stare, spre rusinea mea.
Te imbratisez cu drag si iti doresc tie si alor tai un Decembre frumos, sarbatori fericite cu sanatate, pace in suflete, iubire si bucurii. Si un dar de departe - colinde cantate de Gabi al meu (voce si chitara) cu prietenul lui Ciprian (flaut):
sau aici ( nu e video): Stiu ca Gabi o sa se spere pe mine pentru ca inregistrarile nu sunt de calitate, dar nu ma pot abtine.

Sabina said...

uite cum se fura retete