CSA 2008, Week Seventeen.

There is simply no denying that fall is upon us at last.  I honestly couldn’t tell you why I’ve been in such seasonal denial, especially since autumn is my favorite season: back to school; falling leaves; winding scarves around our necks; orange, yellow and red everywhere.

Of course, there’s more to fall than the trees’ change of apparel.  I haven’t even gotten to the food yet — apples, apples, apples; soups and stews; chili; squash; game — so as the last few weeks of our CSA with The Food Project looms, I’ve found myself anticipating the arrival of our box more and more.  This week’s held the following:

  • Apples
  • Carnival winter squash
  • Carrots
  • Garlic
  • Hakurei turnips
  • Herbs
  • Hot peppers
  • Kale
  • Leeks
  • Lettuce
  • Onions
  • Peppers
  • Potatoes
  • Purple-topped turnips
  • Spinach

The first thing I do when I get home on CSA day is go through my loot, put the leafy greens through a cycle in the salad spinner, and think about all the possible meals and snacks I can produce from all the, well, produce.  For example, I knew I would get a good salad out of the spinach, carrots and lettuce, especially if I threw in some chickpeas from my pantry and whisked together a simple dressing of lemon and oil.  Immediately before eating, I would crumble Parmesan over everything.

The squash, on the other hand, awakened in me my culinarily indecisive nature.  Did I want to roast it, mash it, stuff it?  I decided to go with the roasting, but I didn’t want that to be the end of the line for my sqaush.  I still had last week’s Kabucha on hand, and thought a roasted squash soup would be a particularly fitting way to usher in the fall.  While the following recipe takes a bit of time, most of that is because of the roasting process.  Aside from that, the soup itself is very easy to make, and very delicious to eat.

Roasted Pear-Butternut Soup with Crumbled Stilton, from Eating Well
Makes six portions

2 ripe pears, peeled, quartered and cored
2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 2-inch chunks (I used a Carnival and a Kabucha)
2 medium tomatoes, cored and quartered
1 large leek, pale green and white parts only, halved lengthwise, sliced and washed thoroughly
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon salt, divided
Freshly ground pepper to taste
4 cups vegetable broth or reduced-sodium chicken broth, divided
2/3 cup crumbled Stilton or other blue-veined cheese
1 tablespoon thinly sliced fresh chives or scallion greens (I used scallions, since I already had some in the fridge)

  1. Preheat oven to 400°.  Combine pears, squash, tomatoes, leek, garlic, oil, ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper in a large bowl; toss to coat. Spread evenly on a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, forty to fifty-five minutes. Let cool slightly.
  2. Place half the vegetables and two cups broth in a blender; purée until smooth. Transfer to a large saucepan. Purée the remaining vegetables and two cups broth. Add to the pan and stir in the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt.
  3. Cook the soup over medium-low heat, stirring, until hot, about ten minutes. Divide among six bowls and garnish with cheese and chives (or scallion greens). Cover and refrigerate for up to three days or freeze for up to one month. Add more broth when reheating, if desired.