Editor’s Note: This is the eighth week of a 4 1/2 month challenge, Dark Days, a pledge taken by 88 blogs spanning the country, to eat one meal a week as sustainable, organic, local and ethical possible. – Christina
The more I have thought about possible meals for the Dark Days Challenge, the more I think I am understanding what it would have been like to prepare and eat food in a pre-industrial society. With these meals I can’t follow my whim with fun-sounding dishes, grabbing whatever ingredients my heart desires at the variety of food providers available to me. My options are slimmed down considerably. This week I decided to combine my dark days meal with From Scratch Club’s Soup Swap event and made a Squash Apple Carrot soup. In the end, the soup itself really was mostly just those three ingredients, plus a chicken stock I made the week before from a roasted, locally raised chicken. The more I think about Dark Days challenge options, the more I envision myself as a peasant woman, cooking outside a wooden cabin, making due with whatever meats the men in my family bring home and whatever scraps of preserved vegetables made it this far in to winter.
Isn’t winter squash amazing? Harvested at the end of the summer season, it offers us sweet, orangely nutritious options well in to winter! Rather than writing up the recipe for the squash soup I made, it seems to make more sense to just describe the process of making it, since there was some trial and error. I started by roasting two large butternut squash in the oven. I defrosted the broth from the week before on top of the stove.
Once it had roasted for 45 minutes, the squash, which I had peeled and cubed, got dumped in to the broth. I pureed it all and then added about six medium-sized carrots and two large apples, which I had grated in the food processor. That all cooked for about 30 minutes and then I pureed that too.
At this point the soup was still too watery and had no substance to it. I thought about ways to make it more substantial, but there weren’t enough potatoes from the night before and the pasta I considered tossing in was kind of local but not organic. Then I remembered I had another squash that I had gotten through my CSA but had been using as a table decoration. My mother helped me peel and cube it and then I roasted it, again for about 45 minutes, along with two CSA onions, also chopped.
Once the third squash was added to the soup and it was all pureed, the cumulative product was finally the right texture and flavor. The ingredients for this meal that did not comply with the Dark Days rules were salt, ground pepper and olive oil. Everything else was purchased at the Saratoga Springs Farmers Market.
I had the soup as leftovers for lunch for a few days. Here it is today at work with some of that roasted chicken and some pre-cooked kale and lentils (the lentils being a non-local addition) tossed in to complete the meal. May not look so appetizing in Tupperware, but it sure did taste good.