Fit for a King

I really love soup. Like, a lot. This is good for two reasons: I’m broke and it’s cold out. I just started a new temp-to-hire job (yay!) and I am immensely grateful to be working AND doing work I enjoy, but I had to take a significant pay cut to do it. This means I am watching every penny carefully. To save money I’ve been experimenting with soups that are more or less whatever’s in the fridge, watered down and heated up. Tonight, whatever’s in the fridge consisted of winter squash, mushrooms, leftover rice, leeks, onions, and pumpkin pasta. Surprisingly, it worked out pretty well.

I don’t remember the name of the squash, but it’s small (maybe 1-3 pounds) and it looks a lot like a pumpkin, but bumpier. The flesh is very very orange but tends to be a little green near the skin. It’s sweet and takes well to seasoning. That soup and some┬ásauteed┬átofu with kale made for a nice warm dinner that protected me from the unseasonable chilliness we’ve had the last couple days.

A vague recipe follows…

Winter Squash Soup

Roast 1 medium or two small winter squash in a 400-degree oven for about 45 minutes, or until soft. Before putting them in the oven stab the fruits a few times so they don’t explode. Let cool, cut in half, and scoop out the guts. The seeds are edible and delicious if you want to keep them.

Meanwhile, saute some onions and leeks in a stock pot. Add mushrooms (sliced, a cup or two per your preference) and turnips (peeled and sliced, about 4 small). Add a couple cups water, some leftover rice (optional), and the chunked-up squash guts. Bring to a boil, season, and let simmer for a while. (This was the part where I stopped to make the tofu and kale dish.) A minute or two before serving throw in some fresh pasta. If you’re using dried pasta give it 10 or so minutes. Serve!

This made significantly more soup than I was expecting so I will probably freeze a good portion of it. My favorite part about soup is that you don’t need to eat much to feel full. It’s cost-effective and awesome.

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Delicata Squash

A new kind of winter squash (what? winter? it’s still almost 90 degrees out!) showed up in my CSA box last week. They were out of spaghetti squash so instead I got delicata. This lovely little vine fruit is secretly a summer squash but is treated like its winter cousins. Having never seen a delicata before, I consulted my old friends Mark Bittmann and The Internet. Both advised me that roasting was the way to go, and so I did.

I wish I could show you pictures of the end result, but…there isn’t anything left. It came out so well I almost couldn’t help eating every last slice while they were still hot enough to burn my tongue. I hope to get more next week. (Secretly, I really hope for spaghetti squash. Why? So I can make spaghetti squash and meatballs, of course.)

Roasted Delicata Squash

(makes enough for, oh, let’s say 2 side dishes, or one me-sized snack)

2 squash, scrubbed clean and not peeled, about 1 pound each
olive oil
salt, pepper, other spices as per your inclination

Set the oven to 400. Prepare the squash in one of several ways:

  • Slice off the ends, then cut into 1/2″ thick rounds, removing the seeds with a knife, a spoon, or your fingers (this is what I did)
  • OR slice the whole thing longways, remove the seeds, and slice into half-moons
  • OR poke the skin a couple times with a knife and roast whole

(Keep the seeds if you want – clean off the guts and roast those suckers right along with the squash.)

Drizzle olive oil all over a rimmed cookie sheet. Lay the slices onto the sheet, flip once, and season. Cook for about 40 minutes or until everything is caramelized and lovely, flipping once halfway through. If you decided not to slice, cook it until you can poke the skin easily with a knife, rotating once or twice during the cooking process.

Try not to remove too many taste buds eating directly from the cookie sheet.