3.14.2008

Curried butternut squash and tart apple soup with baby swiss chard


It is early evening at 463 Commercial Street in Provincetown. As I quarter the heavy husk of a butternut squash, the wind outside rattles the pots and pans that hang from the thick beams overhead. I am making soup: a thick, velvety, soup of winter. The voices of an artist and a birthday plumber rise above the din of weather and champagne.

My eyes water over the coal black stove as I chop an onion, an apple, and a tear drop sizzles in the ring of blue flame. The oil is hot; I throw in the onion and the tart green fruit and they begin to sweat. When the squash emerges soft from the oven, I add into the ancient pan a spoonful of curry and a lump of butter.

As I extract the meat of the squash from its hull, I can hear the knock of pool balls upstairs. It is potluck night at the Beachcombers'—a secret society of men and their art. On certain nights, a member will open the door to passersby for a shared meal and a warm fire. Tonight, I got lucky.

I splash a quart of chicken broth into the pan and it spatters against the glass of a charcoal nude. My companions set the table with plates laid out to dry across a long, wooden banquet and a colander of silver, and we pull our chairs closer to the hearth. With the air laden with sweet curry, we say a toast and a blessing, and sit down to eat.


BEACHCOMBER SOUP

produce:
1 butternut squash
2 small, tart storage apples
1 large white onion
a handful of winter greens (swiss chard, arugula, beet greens, etc.)

pantry:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons indian curry
1 quart chicken broth

dairy:
1/4 cup raw milk
2-3 tablespoons butter

Quarter the squash and clean and salt its seeds. Roast fruit and seeds together in a Pyrex pan at 400 degrees, until tender or up to an hour.

Sauté chopped onion and apple in oil, add curry. Sweat 15 minutes or until onion is translucent, and pour in broth. Let simmer.

Skin squash and add to pot with milk and butter. Simmer for 15 minutes, taking care not to boil, and puree. Serve steaming and garnish with greens and roasted seeds.

WHERE TO PROCURE...
squash: Trader Joe's in Hyannis (grown in Massachusetts); apple: stored from fall harvest at Crow Farm in Sandwich; raw milk: Lawton Family Farm in Foxboro; butter: Wellfleet Marketplace (Garelick Farms in Franklin)

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All text, photographs, and other original material copyright 2008-2010 by Elspeth Hay unless otherwise noted.