I’m undeniably in it. I have embraced fall completely; the rusty-hues, dry air, the cider doughnuts and smoky spices. All but the sweltering heat pipes running full blast in my pre-war apartment building, bringing the average temperature up to about 84-86F with the radiators tightly shut off. Heat pipes aside, this may be the most I’ve really enjoyed the fall. Rather than regarding the season as a prelude to something far more challenging, this year I’ve been able to stay present and really celebrate the offerings of the autumnal shifts and oblong angles. This may have something to do with all of my travel for work and my Mets in the World Series (!!!). But, I’m really reveling in the moment at hand and letting the future shape up on its own.
Last week apples, this week squash. My mom makes this butternut squash soup every year for Thanksgiving and it’s what I look forward to the most. I hadn’t heard of honeynut squash until I happened upon it at a local farm. The honeynut squash is a butternut squash cross breed that fits in the palm of your hand and has about ten times the sweetness and squash flavor of the workaday butternut. I figured I’d give it a shot and it’s worth it, though if you can’t find one, a regular butternut suits the bill just fine. Adding a touch of curry and nutmeg, plus a few heaping tablespoons of pumpkin puree brings out the natural flavor of the squash without actually making it taste like curry or pumpkin pie. Cilantro contributes depth and pepitas provide a fitting texture. This soup is gooood. It’s healthy, filling and light enough to reflect each fluctuation of the season.
Ever since starting this blog in October 2012….wait a minute…did I completely forget my blogoversary, which is like…actually today?! I did, didn’t I? Shoot. Okay, then. Next week my blog gets to eat whatever it wants.
As I was saying, when I started this blog, I saw it as a distraction or a break from my pursuit of creative writing. I’m a short story teller by nature. I always have been. Personal narrative often takes second place to professional life or the business of our daily lives. This space has been a way of giving narrative its intentional place by focusing it through the lens of food and photography. While the blog isn’t fiction, this space has helped me to refine my thought process and grow in ways I never could have predicted. It has been a way of learning new movement in my creative muscle memory and strengthening it. If a story’s positive virtues are not different from the positive virtues of its writer, and a good story is honest, direct, loving and restrained, it follows that by practicing this craft weekly here, by revising and refining the recipes, photos and sentences, I’ve refined a part of my own character. Nurturing this space week after week and the relationships that I’ve derived from being here have changed the way I perceive beauty and gently elevated my vision to a more sound estate. It’s as if something has reached out its shadowy hand and subtly drawn my gaze toward it. A story is a compressed bundle of energy. The more it is thoughtfully compressed, the more power it will have, giving these paragraphs more power than their length should allow. And so regardless of my goals going in, I’ve already achieved more than I ever set out to do.
CURRIED HONEYNUT SQUASH SOUP IN A PUMPKIN
For The Soup:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 honeynut squashes, or 1 medium butternut squash cut in half
- 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (optional)
- 1 (32 fluid ounce) container chicken (or vegetable) stock
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- 1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 bunch cilantro
- 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, toasted*
For The Pumpkins:
- 2 medium sized pumpkins
- salt/pepper/nutmeg/cinnamon (a pinch of each)
*For this recipe I used store bought pepitas/pumpkin seeds and toasted them in a pan over a low flame for about 5 minutes. For the seeds I just pulled out of the pumpkin, I plan to use this handy guide for shelling the seeds and roasting them. I used to do this as a kid so it has to be easy enough.
Prepare The Pumpkins and Squash:
Preheat the oven to 350F. Using a knife, carve the top off of the pumpkins and scoop out the seeds and the stringy insides. Season inside of pumpkin with salt, pepper and a touch of nutmeg and/or cinnamon. Set aside. Cut the butternut or honeynut squashes in half and scoop out the seeds and stringy part. Place pumpkins on a baking sheet including the tops (no need to cover the pumpkins with the tops) in the oven on lower rack and honeynut squash facedown on a baking sheet in the higher rack and roast for 45 mins. Remove from oven, let cool. This can be done the day before if necessary and stored in the fridge until needed.
Prepare The Soup:
Pour the oil in a large pot, and cook the onion for 5-7 mins until translucent. Add the curry powder and nutmeg. Let toast for a minute. Scoop the roasted honeynut squash pulp out of its skin and into the pot. Add the pumpkin puree if using. Pour in the chicken stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover pot, and simmer 20 minutes.
Transfer the soup to a blender or using a hand blender, blend until smooth. Return to pot. Season with salt and pepper. Using a ladle, pour into roasted pumpkins. Serve with cilantro, chives and toasted pumpkin seeds.