White: Butternut squash soup, an antidote for lousy weather

This has been a wonderful week for food.

I had friends to my house for dinner mid-week, since two of them had birthdays within days of each other and what could be a better reason for a pork roast with all the fixins.'

With the leftovers, I made two casseroles (mashed potatoes, pork, sauerkraut, peas and Knorr's gravy) which are now in the freezer. And, as a thank you, Karen Dahle and Susan Hessel, the birthday ladies, bought me a machine that makes its own soda, which I had wanted for years. I made the Emergency Chocolate cake for the celebration. (Email me if you want the recipe.)

Thursday night I met my friend Francine for an early dinner at the Bee & Thistle, but because we ran into other friends at the restaurant, our dinner for two turned into dinner for four.

Friday I went to Trader Joe's, Whole Foods and Crown Market, with lunch in between with a neighbor. If you remember, last week I asked if anyone knew where I might find Rusticella d'Abruzzo pasta for less than the prohibitive $9 per package; I found it at Whole Foods for half the price. First time I ever found anything "cheaper" at Whole Foods.

That night I had a chopped liver sandwich on rye that I bought at Crown. Saturday night I went with a crowd to Alforno in Old Saybrook and Sunday I watched football, worried about the storm, and made acorn squash and squash bisque and three loaves of banana-nut chocolate chip quick breads.

With icky weather just around the corner, I thought you might like a couple of recipes for squash which, often, tastes like dessert.

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

Adapted from The Silver Palate Cookbook by Sheila Lukins and Julee Rosso (Workman, New York, 1979)

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

4 tablespoons sweet butter

2 cups finely chopped yellow onions (I use sweet onions)

4 to 5 teaspoons curry powder

2 medium-size butternut squash (about 3 pounds)

2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped (I used Granny Smith)

3 cups good chicken stock (if using canned chicken stock, use low-sodium, low-fat)

1 cup apple juice

salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

honey to taste, optional (Granny Smith apples aren't sweet enough for me)

1 shredded unpeeled Granny Smith apple for garnish, optional

Melt butter in a stock pot. Add onions and curry powder and cook, covered, over low heat until onions are tender, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel squash (a regular vegetable peeler works best), scrape out seeds and chop flesh.

When onions are tender, pour in stock, add squash and apples and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until squash and apples are very tender, about 25 minutes.

Pour soup through a strainer, reserving liquid, and transfer solids to bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, or use a food mill fitted with a medium disc. Add 1 cup of cooking stock and process until smooth. (By the way, the curry colored the plastic part of my steel blade yellow.)

Return pureed soup to the pot and add apple juice and additional cooking liquid, about 2 cups, until soup is of desired consistency.

Season to taste with salt and pepper. If you would like the soup a little sweeter, add honey, stir and taste. Serve immediately, garnished with shredded apple (optional). Can be made ahead of time and warm before serving.

Roasted Acorn Soup

Yield: serves 4

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Slice two acorn squashes horizontally; scoop out seeds. On the uncut end, cut a tiny slice off so squash can sit flat, making sure you have not cut through the "meat" of the squash. Place on a Pyrex baking pan. In each cavity, put a good-sized pat of butter and cover with about two tablespoons light brown sugar. Place pan in oven and roast until flesh gives if you place a fork into the top. Serve warm.



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