Every year, there is a sudden moment in the latter part of September when I see and feel the definitive shift in the season and I know the autumn has arrived. This happened as I made my way home from work last week.
When this change happens, there is a distinctly different feel to the faux autumn of September, when the summer is still tangible – the leaves and foliage are relatively untouched and at times it is still warm enough to garden in short sleeves.
There are many things I love about this season and there are particular things I crave in the kitchen – squash soup is most certainly one.
I usually grow butternut varieties on the allotment, but this year I fancied a change and I want to expand my experiences and discover the different flavours this superb kitchen garden crop provides.
Honey Bear is an acorn type squash and the only variety I grew on the plot this year. My only regret since tasting it is that I didn’t grow more plants – it’s delicious.
If space is tight or you just want more plants, Honey Bear is a great choice as it’s a bushy, compact plant producing 3-4 fruits which are small and weigh around a kilogram.
Acorn squash is really versatile. It can be baked, roasted, steamed, sautéed, or even cooked in the microwave (thanks to Claire Vokins for the last of those ideas).
However, I’m a huge fan of squash and pumpkin soup and especially in the autumn when they are such a seasonal ingredient. I also wanted to really inspect the flavour of the squash and that meant creating a soup that did very little to it and simply allowed me to get a proper impression of how it tastes.
After peeling, I halved the squash and scooped out the seeds. Then it was a matter of simply dicing the squash and with a drizzle of olive oil, roasting them in the oven until golden and soft when pressed with a knife.
One of the best things about this recipe is that it really only requires three main ingredients – Honey Bear squash, Onion and Garlic and they all came from our allotment garden.
While you wait for the squash to roast, soften an onion and garlic in a large pan with some olive oil. When the squash is golden, add the pieces to the pan and pour in enough vegetable stock to cover the vegetables. Let them gently simmer for 10 minutes to allow the wonderful flavours to amalgamate.
Use a hand blender to blitz the soup. It will become smooth and thick and the colour of autumn. I like my squash soup quite dense but as you purify the mixture, add more stock until it reaches the consistency of your liking.
There is nothing else needed to improve this dish. The flavour of the roasted squash is incredibly intense, sweet, nutty and moreish. I could eat this soup every single day and still want more.
I’ll be growing Honey Bear again next year but I have to grow some other varieties too as at the moment, I’ve assured myself this is the best tasting squash soup I’ve ever had and must make some comparisons.
What about you? Are you a fan of squash soup? I’d love to hear any varieties that you feel are the best for flavour. Drop me a comment below.
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