Into the New Year

This is probably going to sound a bit fantastical. You might even think it's a lie. But it is the truth, I swear.

Remember that Hubbard squash I wrote about on August 25th? Well, it had a sister, and it's made it into the New Year. I got it around that same time, late August, maybe early September. I rubbed it all over with oil, and tucked it into the closet downstairs. I checked it every few weeks, but mostly forgot about it for these months. We were still getting fresh apples and carrots and cabbage, and there was turnip slaw and kale soup to make.

Only now, now that just about everything is closed (come Christmas we bid even Crow Farm adieu), did I venture down to pull it out. It had a few blemishes and rot spots, which I cut out, but for a four-month-old piece of produce, it was looking pretty handsome, I must say. (The onions from October are still firm and hearty, too, but that's a story for another time—perhaps with the company of a bowl of French onion soup.)

And though it had held up so grandly, I thought it might be best roasted and then pureed into soup. My mother made a squash soup over Christmas—Thai-spiced with butternut and coconut milk and a bit of red curry paste. She found it on 101 Cookbooks, an excellent recipe site, and whipped it up for the party the other day.

Given the weather recently (cold and windy, with plenty of snow), I thought it might be good for today. I changed it around a bit, added an onion and some chili flakes and a bit of Sichuan salt. The result was a thick, rich, delicious pot of brilliant orange soup. After a day in the snow outside, I think you'll find it just right.


Makes about 1 quart

1 smallish blue Hubbard squash
olive oil
Sichuan salt, or Sichuan seasonings with a pinch of salt
1 onion
1 can coconut milk (13.5 oz.)
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cumin
chili pepper flakes to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel and chop squash into 1-inch chunks. Grease a 9- by 13-inch Pyrex with olive oil. Add squash and a sprinkling of Sichuan salt. Mix well with a spatula and cover. Bake for 20 minutes, remove cover, and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes uncovered.

Dice onion. Saute in olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until translucent. Add squash (and all the salt and olive oil from the pan you can get) and saute for several minutes. Add coconut milk, ginger, cumin, and chili flakes, bring to a boil, and simmer about 10 minutes. Transfer soup to a blender or food processor, and puree. Return to pot and bring back to a boil, adding water as desired to thin. Remove from heat and serve hot.

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