What a sunny dinner we had last night: our favorite creamy butternut squash soup and homemade cornbread accompanied by a golden, homemade apple wine. What perfect winter fare! Healthy, delicious food prepared from the bounty of our last year's harvest.
Winter squash has been staple winter food in this region since way before the Europeans arrived. Butternut is the variety of winter squash that seems to grow best around here. It resists vine borers, squash bugs and fungus diseases and reliably produces a good crop of delicious fruits. Butternut squash also stores easily for months.
This soup recipe has become one of our favorites, not only because it is so tasty, but also because it's easy to prepare and uses so many of the vegetables we grow. We're grateful to Pat Beardsley who offered this recipe in the Shelton Farmers Market newsletter last fall. We have adapted it slightly to suit our spicy tastes.
The basic soup calls for onions and garlic, sautéed in olive oil with ground cumin. After the peeled and cubed squash is added and sautéed for a few minutes, some stock and dark beer are added. The soup is cooked until the squash is tender, and then blended to smoothness, reheated and served with yogurt.
Since garlic and onions are among our home grown winter staples and the base of almost every meal we cook, we use lots of them in this soup. We added a few dried hot peppers and some tamari instead of salt, increased the cumin seasoning and added a little turmeric to carry out the curry theme. For broth, we used some of the frozen stock from last Thanksgiving's homegrown turkey. Our son Dan's been making beer, so we used some of his delicious homemade dark brew for flavoring the soup. He actually missed this meal because he was working late at Field View Farm in Orange to make the local yogurt that is such a wonderful addition to so many foods.
While the soup was simmering, Suzanne and I whipped up our favorite cornbread recipe from the Joy of Cooking. We ground the Longfellow flint corn we grow with some winter wheat.
Aside from the flour and corn meal, the bread has baking soda and powder for leavening, several eggs, a little butter and honey, and yogurt. We bake it in a cast iron skillet after topping it with paprika.
I'd been bottling some of the apple wine we made several years ago from High Hill Orchard's cider. There was part of a bottle left over, so we drank that with our dinner.
Every part of this meal- the soup, cornbread and apple wine- glowed with golden cheeriness. All those yellow vegetables are so heartening on a cold winter's day. This is food that's good not only for the body, but for the soul as well.
If you'd like some of our favorite winter recipes, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Winter Food, WSHU, 5151 Park Avenue, Fairfield, CT 06432.
Good eating to you!
This is Bill Duesing, Living on the Earth
This page and its contents are copyright © 1997 by WSHU-FM, Fairfield, CT, and by Bill Duesing.