10.13.2009

A little kabocha sunshine

You know that part in the wedding vows where you promise to love and comfort and honor and keep each other in sickness and in health? Well, I think the God of Marriage has decided to test us. Not in some big, scary way, but instead, through this hilarious little device She calls a cold. (In ancient Greece at least, the God of Marriage was a woman, Hera. I'm pretty sure she's still out there, presiding over rituals and testing prospective couples and chasing bad suitors away.)

Anyway, a cold sounds pretty tame, doesn't it? When Alex spent the whole day in bed last Tuesday I thought maybe he was getting cold feet or overwhelmed by work or even just vying for a plate of cookies and a cup of tea, but now, I understand. This cold is NOT tame.

Instead, this cold is the kind that sneaks up on a Sunday afternoon while you're out in the garden puttering happily around, pulling the oak leaves from the strawberry patch and planting fresh rows of spinach in the greenhouse and potting your herbs for the cold winter months, and attacks. It throws your left nostril into continual sneeze preparation mode, takes away your taste buds, and kicks you into bed.

If it weren't for friends who leave kabocha squashes on your doorstep, I'm not sure we would have made it through.


The kabocha squash is the one on the right there, the deep ruddy orange one with the pumpkin shaped body and the tall stem. Kabocha is a Japanese variety, and while normally it has dark green skin and bright orange insides, this particular version is called a Sunshine kabocha. It tastes the same—smooth and a bit pasty, kind of like a cross between a butternut and a hubbard—but it is much, much more cheerful looking. And when you're in your room with the heat cranked up to 75 and the door shut tight and the covers up to your chin, nice bright Sunshine kabocha soup makes an excellent therapeutic tea.

Luckily, I made the soup last week when Alex was sick, before I got hit. I armed us with shallots and kabocha sunshine and chicken broth and ginger, and it appears to have done the trick. Between the soup and the half empty bottle of terrifyingly green Nyquil on the bathroom counter and a bowl of autumn olive sorbet brought over by a friend, we are most definitely on the mend.

I hope you don't need this soup—not at least, for any of Hera's tests—but just in case, you might make a batch. It's always good, in a month like this, to have a little kabocha sunshine on hand.

ROASTED KABOCHA AND SHALLOT SOUP

This recipe is adapted from one I found in Cooking Light last fall. While the original called for butternut squash, I think you could swap any variety with a nice orange flesh in and get very good results. If you do decide to use another variety, like say, butternut, keep an eye on the liquids. I ended up using twice as much chicken broth as Cooking Light called for, which I think might have been because of the pasty, suck-the-moisture-in nature of kabocha squash. Try adding 2 cups at first, then work your way up until you have the consistency you want.

1 medium-size kabocha squash (butternut, sugar pumpkin, or Hubbard would probably work too), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
6 small shallots, peeled and halved
1 (1 and 1/2-inch) piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade
2 tablespoons fresh sliced chives
freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Toss the squash, shallots, ginger, oil, and salt together in a large casserole dish. Cover with tinfoil and bake for 30 minutes; remove foil and bake 30 minutes longer, or until the squash is soft. Combine the roasted vegetables and chicken broth in a blender (in batches, depending on how much space you have) and puree until everything is smooth. Pour the soup into a large, heavy-bottomed pot and bring to a boil. Simmer for roughly 5 minutes to allow the flavors to come together. Serve piping hot garnished with fresh sliced chives and freshly cracked black pepper to taste. A side of toast, especially if you're under the weather, never hurts as a side.

4 comments :

Andrea said...

Tests indeed. My husband had no voice on our wedding day and had to croak his vows out! Glad the soup has put you both on your way to recovery.

Elspeth said...

Andrea, you take the cake! I have my fingers crossed that this early cold will cancel out any chance of disaster in a few weeks.

Tameson said...

only 1/2 a bottle of nyquil? I'm on the second bottle of dayquil (does not keep me awake I tkae at night too!).

Good luck with your cold. Mine is no fun.

NagaRaj Raj said...

I am so excited to see your blog and come full circle in my hops. Thank you to all you fabulous bloggers for doing this. I loved getting the chance to meet and learn from you the one on the right there, the deep ruddy orange one with the pumpkin formed frame and the tall stem. I'm working in OOH Media Software Kabocha is a eastern range, and while commonly it has dark green skin and brilliant orange insides, this specific version is called a Sunshine kabocha. It tastes the identical—smooth and a chunk pasty, sort of like a cross among a butternut and a hubbard—however it's miles lots, a lot more pleased looking. And while you're to your room with the warmth cranked

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