Jackson. My sweet baby boy is one month old. One month since he came into the world and brought with him the greatest joy his daddy and I have ever known. There’s no way to comprehend the experience. It feels futile - even silly - trying to describe it so I’ll save that task for another day. We are ridiculously happy and I’ll leave it at that.
I’ve got just a few minutes here with a sleeping baby so I’ll get right down to it today, and I apologize in advance for the ho-hum pics this this post. As any of you parents know, life with a newborn takes on a narrow focus. Eat. Sleep. Eat. Sleep. Snuggle. Shower on a good day. Fold some laundry, maybe. Eat. Sleep. Fortunately we’ve had a revolving door of visitors bringing food and support, but getting a meal on the table (previously my strong suit) is now a daily challenge.
Before Jack was born I made a big batch of this soup and tucked several quart jars into the freezer. It’s nourishing and comforting and revived me during those first days when the divide between day and night was nonexistent. The recipe is not mine but was shared with me by a close friend of my mom’s. She often hosts a Halloween dinner and practically greets you at the door with a big bowl of it, topped elegantly with creme fraiche and chives. It feels like a warm hug every time.
There are a million squash soup recipes out there but I urge you to try this one. I make it exactly as it’s written in the cookbook. It’s velvety and tastes so much more indulgent than the ingredient list would suggest. It’s also simple. Roasting the halved squashes brings out a depth of flavor but also makes it easy to scoop out the flesh, keeping the prep minimal. Add a green salad and crusty baguette if you wish, but you may be tempted to ladle it right into a coffee mug as I’ve been known to do. More conducive to snuggling down under blankets on the couch during Netflix binges.
Since I have a growing stack of unwritten thank-you cards, I’m also going to use this space to thank all of you that have extended yourselves to us over the last month. The calls, texts, emails, visits, meals, gifts, hugs, kind words on Facebook and Instagram, neighbors that keep bringing in our garbage cans for us, … we are overwhelmed by our community. I hope I can return the favor some day.
BAKED WINTER SQUASH SOUP
- 2 acorn squash, 2lbs each
- 2 butternut squash, 2lbs each
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 8 teaspoons brown sugar
- 3 carrots, peeled and halved
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced
- 10 cups good chicken stock
- ¾ teaspoon ground mace
- ¾ teaspoon ground ginger
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- Salt, to taste
- Suggested garnishes - creme fraiche, chives, freshly ground black pepper, crusty croutons or toast, and your best olive oil
Preheat oven to 350F. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Lay cut side up in a couple of baking dishes or shallow roasting pan and fill each cavity with 1 tablespoon butter and 1 teaspoon brown sugar. Arrange carrots and onions around the squash and pour 2 cups of the chicken stock around the veggies. Cover tightly with foil and bake until squash are very tender, about 2 hours.
Remove pan from oven. When the vegetables are cool enough to handle, scoop the flesh out of the squash and place in a large soup pot, along with the carrots, onions and cooking liquid.
Add the remaining chicken stock, spices, and salt to taste and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10-20 minutes.
Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth and velvety. Alternatively, you can use a blender and work in batches, returning the soup to the pot afterwards to heat through. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed before serving