I really like cooking. I like to experiment. For my birthday, or maybe Mothers' Day, C and E got me The Flavor Bible, which was recommended to me by a chef at one of our favorite restaurants. It's basically all the most delicious taste combinations for any and every ingredient known to man. I have at least 50 cookbooks, a subscription to "Cook's Illustrated," and notebooks full of recipes I've collected over many years. I have church cookbooks collected from who knows where, and recipes bookmarked on my computer.
But I don't actually use many of those recipes. Baking almost always requires a recipe for me, as I view it more of a precise scientific process rather than "cooking." But for every night dinners I usually go with my instincts and think about what might taste good, and then go for it.
Fall really reinvigorates my cooking desire. Summer grilling loses its appeal early, leaving me wanting water and popsicles most of the time. By Winter I'm through with heavy food, and while holiday baking gets me jazzed, I'm over it by about December 28th. Spring's exciting, what with her asparagus and peas and broccoli; it's a promise that the abundance of garden goodness is on its way.
But oh, Fall. Soups, muffins, fresh bread, roasted goodness from the oven. I like the fruits of Fall: apples, squash, pumpkin, pears. So hearty and versatile. Soup really makes me feel like I'm a good person--eating it is relaxing, making it makes me feel resourceful and productive.
The other day, using what I'd zealously purchased from the farm, I made a batch of Butternut Squash soup. This is one of my favorites, in all its iterations. Last week I made a curried squash soup. This week, straight up, throwing in things that might work together.
3 or so cups of peeled, cubed butternut squash
2 shallots, minced
apple cider vinegar
apple juice or cider
salt and pepper
chicken or vegetable broth
Heat the butter and olive oil in a heavy stockpot or Dutch oven. Add shallots, cook til translucent. Add vinegar and juice, then add squash, salt and pepper and honey (just a little). Cook a minute of two. Add broth to cover veggies, bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, for about half an hour. Take it off the heat, taste and readjust s and p, and use an immersion blender to make it smooth and unctuous (I love that word!). Serve with a pat of compound butter (chive butter would be delicious here) or a swizzle of maple syrup or a dollop of Greek yogurt. Or just straight up out of the pot. Whatevs--it's your soup.
It's a simple one, but so delicious and satisfying. Dang, I love soup.