It’s October. Fall is FINALLY here in Boston. Pumpkins are abound, in everything from whoopie pies to beer…let the autumnal-ness begin!!!
Scratch that–I spent the first few days of October in bed with the worst sinus infection I’ve ever had, NOT enjoying my beloved pumpkin brews and spending very little time in the kitchen. So, it is kind of ironic that the last thing I made before my sinuses got the better of me (Corn and Smoked Trout Chowder) and the first thing since feeling better have both been soup.
Every fall, I seem to make several variations of pumpkin and squash soup. I have tried using canned pumpkin on its own in a real pinch, roasted butternut squash, a combination of the two, and I’m still determined to try roasting my own pumpkin and new squash varieties, but this particular recipe is adapted from one of Jamie Oliver’s, and eliminates the roasting step (i.e., additional cooking time and dishes) by cooking the squash in the liquid. I had some beautiful Vermont squash and homemade chicken stock in the freezer, but ended up experimenting by adding one cup of Dogfish Head Punkin Ale to the chicken stock, as I fell one cup short of the required quart of liquid. This is a full-bodied brown ale, and lends a slightly nutty flavor, and using more rosemary than sage (I usually do the opposite) contributes a nice earthiness.
Squash and ‘Punkin’ Soup (loosely based on Jamie Oliver’s Superb Squash Soup) The original recipe serves 8, but mine makes about 4 servings
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 stick of celery, trimmed and chopped
1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
1 shallot, peeled and diced
3 small cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
8 sage leaves* (I am usually heavy with the sage, but only had a few leaves left on my plant, so I used closer to 4)
1 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and chopped into 1 inch pieces
3 cups chicken stock (homemade is always best)
1 cup Dogfish Head Punkin Ale
*Note on sage: Jamie’s recipe requires a quick, 30 second frying of the sage leaves to infuse your olive oil with flavor, then reserves crispy sage for garnishing soup. I would encourage you to do so, but the 4 itty bitty leaves I used in this case weren’t really enough to fully flavor the oil.
Cover the bottom of a heavy stock pot or Dutch oven with a few tablespoons of olive oil, and cook carrot, celery, onion, shallot, garlic, herbs, and a good pinch of salt and pepper over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, until the veggies are soft and fragrant.
Add the squash, stock, and beer, bring to a boil, and simmer for about half an hour. Once the squash is tender when pierced with a fork, shut off the heat and carefully whiz the soup with an immersion blender (pouring into a standard blender works fine too). Adjust seasoning and serve with crusty bread, a dollop of crème fraîche, and a few drops of good-quality extra virgin olive oil.