Winter Squash Soup with Fried Sage Leaves

Kubocha at the Farmers Market

Folks, we just made this soup tonight with Kobocha Squash from Carl’s organic Woodleaf Farm, and I can tell, you this is the best vegetarian soup I have ever eaten. Period. We used a blender to smooth out the texture at the end… and yes, we found ourselves licking everything the soup touched. Please try it (can be made with any winter squash) and let us know what you think.

Diners– Choose Your Squashes

Winter Squash Soup with Fried Sage Leaves

2 1/2 – 3 lbs winter squash
1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra for coating the squash
6 cloves garlic, unpeeled
12 whole sage leaves, plus 2T chopped
2 onions, finely chopped
Chopped leaves from 4 thyme sprigs or 1/4 teaspoon dried
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Salt and freshly milled pepper
2 cups water, or stock
1/2 cup Fontina, Pecorino, or Ricotta Salata, diced into small cubes

Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Half the squash and scoop out the seeds. Brush the squash with olive oil, place garlic in the cavities, and place squash cut sides down on a baking dish. Bake until tender when pressed with a finger, about 30 minutes (60 minutes for large squash).

Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat the 1/4 cup oil until nearly smoking, then drop in the whole sage leaves and fry until speckled and somewhat darker, about 1 minute. Set the leaves aside on a paper towel and transfer the oil to a wide soup pot. Add the onions, chopped sage, thyme, and parsley and cook over medium high heat until the onions have begun to brown around the edges, 12 to 15 minutes. Scoop the squash flesh into the pot and pour in any juice that has accumulated in the baking dish. Squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skins and into the pot along with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and the water. Cover and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 25 minutes. If the soup becomes too thick, add more water. Salt to taste.

Consistency: Different types of squash yield different textures. If you want a smoother or “creamy” texture, puree with a blender or food processor and return to low heat briefly before serving.

Serving: To serve, ladle into soup bowls and drop in the cheese cubes. Garnish with fried sage leaves and fresh ground pepper.

Squash Soup Tureen

Alternate serving suggestion: scoop out a large squash, reserving the cut out top. Ladle the soup into the squash “tureen,” cover with the top, and serve at the table.

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Spicy Pickled Green Beans

Beans in the Jar

Yields 4 pint jars of pickled beans:

Ingredients

3 to 4 lb. young green beans
4 long thin Red chiles (fresh or dried)
4 lg Garlic cloves
1 tb Peppercorns( white, black, green or a mixture)
1/4 c loosely packed fresh dill sprigs, or 4 tb dried dill weed
2 1/2 c Water
2 1/2 c White wine vinegar
1/4 c Salt

4 1-pint mason jars with lids

Instructions 

Trim and remove string from the beans. Rinse well and set aside. Sterilize jars and lids in boiling water. When jars are cool enough to handle, vertically pack jars with beans until snug. Insert chiles and garlic cloves, preferably around the outside for visibility (both for decorative reasons and also as an alert that they are spicy). Divide peppercorns and dill among jars.

Separately, bring the water, vinegar and salt to boil in a non-reactive sauce pan. Ladle the hot brine over the beans, leaving about 1/2 inch head space. Wipe jar-edge clean and screw on sterilized lid and band according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Process sealed jars in boiling water bath for 12 minutes. Remove and allow to cool completely at room temperature away from drafts. Check lids to make sure proper seal has been attained. To allow flavors to develop, store for at least one month before opening.

This recipe yields 4 pints

Zucchini Souffle

Zucchini Souffle

Zucchini and feta cheese Souffles:

2 C shredded zucchini
3 T. butter
1/4 C. flour
1/4 t. dry mustard
1 C. milk
1/2 C. crumbled feta
1 T. grated parmesan
4 eggs separated

preheat oven to 375
mix zucchini with 1 t. salt and set in colander for 30 min.
rinse, drain, squeeze dry.
melt butter, add flour and mustard then milk.
stir until bubbly.
remove from heat and add zucchini and cheeses.
beat egg yolks and add to mixture.
beat egg whites to form stiff peaks and fold into mixture.
spoon into 6 greased 6-oz souffle or custard cups.
Bake 25 minutes

Apple-Pear Sauce

Organic Pears from the Farmers Market

Ingredients
4 medium apples
2 soft pears
1 Tb grated/minced ginger (optional, for spicier sauce)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup water

Directions
Cut apples into quarters and core, leaving skin on. Then cut into chunks, also leaving skin intact. Mince/grate ginger with skin. Add apples, pears, spices, ginger, and water into pot. Simmer with lid on until fruit becomes soft, about 20-30 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking, and mash up fruit while cooking.

For more uniform consistency, puree in food processor.

Perfect for breakfast or dessert, topping for yogurt, or a condiment for pork/poultry dishes. Also great for kids. Slather freely.

Yields about 4 servings.

Red-skinned apples make pink applesauce, while green-skined apples create a cream-colored product. Use sweet or tart apples, depending on preference.