Last week, I went grocery shopping without a list, which is a terrifying thing for me. I like having a very precise grocery list that I can systematically check off while I shop. I partly like to do this because I really enjoy checking things off lists – it makes me feel productive. But I also need a list because I am easily distracted and start buying anything that strikes my attention in the store. Once you get home with only multiple packages of Conecuh sausage, a 6-pack of a good microbrew, and a bag of artichokes, you realize that lists are important guidelines.
Case in point: last week I came home with two acorn squash. Growing up, I do not remember ever seeing any variety of squash. There was just the basic yellow squash and we’d eat it sautéed and I loved it. But there’s so much else out there. Since the fall, I’ve been staring, captivated by the cornucopia of squash choices at the store. Besides butternut squash (and now acorn squash), I have no idea what they are or what to do with them. (Someone please let me know what’s the squat little yellow guy…?)
After a bit of searching, I decided acorn squash doesn’t have many uses, which would’ve made me sad if I hadn’t found so many people using them as bowls instead, which is just ingenious. It’s very much like the bread bowls you can get chili or some other hearty soup in, but, it’s, well, healthy.
Actually this entire recipe is almost embarrassingly healthy. Did you make some New Year’s resolution promising to eat healthy or lose weight or eat more veggies? Then, to take a line from The Price is Right, come on down! Substitute meaty chili for butternut squash and leeks and sub carb heavy bread bowls for an acorn squash bowl and you’ve got yourself the most squash heavy meal of vitamins you could ever dream of.
Even if you didn’t resolve to get healthy, treat your body to this soup. Because of the double-punch power of both squashes, you come very close to your daily dosage of Vitamin A and C, plus a nice serving of protein. In the January post-New Years festivity week, any one could use that.
(Disclaimer: To coin a new phrase, don’t judge a soup by its color. I’d never used organic veggie stock before, but I did with this recipe. As it turns out, the stock is incredibly dark. Like, beef broth dark. So the soup was a slightly unappealing brown color. It’s delicious, I promise!)
Butternut Squash and Leek Bisque in Acorn Squash Bowls
Adapted from Poor Girl Eats Well
Serves 4 with leftovers
2 medium butternut squash
2 acorn squash
3 tbs olive oil, divided
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium white onion, chopped
1 leek, green and white parts chopped
¾ cup chopped carrot
½ tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
½ tsp dried sage
½ tsp dried thyme
¼ tsp paprika
2 ½ cups vegetable stock
½ cup skim milk
1 ½ tbs honey
Preheat oven to 425°. Peel the butternut squash and cut in half. Scoop out the pulpy insides and discard. Cut into 1-inch cubes and toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Place in an aluminum foil lined baking pan. Cut each acorn squash in half and scoop out the pulp. Place cut side down in a roasting pan and add 2 inches of water to pan. Roast both squashes for about 25 minutes, or until squash is fork tender. Remove and let cool slightly.
In a Dutch oven, heat the remaining olive oil over medium high heat and add garlic and onion. Sauté until slightly softened, about 4 minutes. Add carrots, leeks, herbs, and seasonings and cook until carrots begin to soften. Add butternut squash and vegetable stock and bring to a simmer. Cook 4 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to a blender. Puree until smooth, then add milk and honey and continue to puree to combine. Return to the Dutch oven and heat for another 8 minutes.
Cut a tiny sliver off the back of the acorn squash “bowls” so that they will sit flat and stable. Put bowl on a plate and ladle in soup. Top with another dash of paprika and serve.
Picnic tip: Skip the squash bowls if you’re going on a picnic. Just carry the already made soup in a food jar and it’ll be warm and ready to eat at your picnic.