Harvest 2011 – Week 10 – It Rains… so I make Soup!

Well, we all knew it would get to this. What we didn’t know is how much it would rain. Asti topped out at almost 2 1/2 inches of rain over last week. We’re getting more today as well. Rain during this time of year is challenging for several reasons.

1) When it’s raining there is no sun. No sun = no photosynthesis and no photosynthesis means ripening stalls for the duration of the time that there is no sun.

2) The water absorbed by the vines dilutes the sugar and flavors that you have already accumulated meaning you’ll have to wait longer to get to the same sugar levels than you would have without the rain.

3) The water on the grapes can dilute the sugar and flavor if the grapes are picked or transported while they are still wet.

4) The moisture can cause berries to swell and burst, giving way to mold and rot. The added moisture in the atmosphere will lead to mold and rot by itself if these conditions exist for an extended period of time.

So it is worrisome all the way around! We’re waiting patiently (well not really THAT patiently) to see what the weather will hold for the next week. There is another threat of rain this coming Sunday so that means any dry day this week we’ll be harvesting our little hearts out!

On a happy note, we are now in the middle of my favorite season of the year! Fall is the time that I take to bake and cook hearty dishes like roasts and stews. One of my favorite is my Fall Harvest Soup. This is one of the first things I make every year because it really makes your home smell of baking spices and roasted fall flavors. The puree is super versatile and can be used for soups, breads, and pies plus it can be frozen so if you make more than you need for one recipe you can freeze the rest for later. This soup is very thick and hearty and is perfect for those chilly evenings or rainy days during the late fall and early winter. I’ve used it as an appetizer to Thanksgiving dinner or as a quick lunch on a rainy weekend. It’s on the menu for this week at my house so I thought I’d share my recipe with you.

This recipe should be considered guidelines not actual rules since each of the ingredients are approximations. I normally look for texture, smell, and taste to guide me in my preparations.

Fall Harvest Soup

  • 2 ½ cups of Fall Squash Puree
  • 1 ½ cups of Chicken Stock (not broth)
  • ½ cup of heavy cream
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Cinnamon and roasted squash seeds to garnish

Place the Squash puree in a pan over medium heat. Immediately begin to stir in the chicken stock until the mixture resembles a uniform, thick soup. Continue stirring while adding the cream and salt and pepper to taste. Once the soup is heated completely, pour it in your favorite fall bowls and garnish with cinnamon (and toasted seeds if desired).

Fall Squash Puree

One Fall squash (acorn (large sized), butternut (medium sized), or pumpkin (small sized))

If using small enough squash to roast in halves add the following ingredients to the hollow of the squash…

  • 2 Tbs of unsalted Butter
  • 1 Tbs ground Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cloves

Pre heat oven to 375° F. Prepare a cookie sheet with an aluminum foil covering to bake the squash. Halve the squash carefully and remove seeds and loose pulp from the center (Seeds can be cleaned for toasting) and place the two halves on the cookie sheet, hollow side up. Divide the butter and spices between the two halves of the squash placing the ingredients in the hollow left by the seeds. Put the squash in the oven, again hollow side up, to bake for 1 hour. After 45 minutes, test the flesh of the squash with a fork for tenderness. The fork should easily slide in when the squash is fully cooked. Remove the cookie sheet carefully from the oven and let the squash cool. Once the flesh is cool, pour the melted butter and spices into a food processor. Scoop out the flesh of the squash and put that in the food processor as well. Puree until smooth with no clumps.

Toasted Squash Seeds

  • Seeds from a cleaned Squash
  • Drizzle of Olive Oil to coat
  • Cinnamon to coat
  • Salt to taste

Pre heat the oven on 200° F (Broil on low can be used for a quick toast). Put the seeds in a bowl and make sure to remove most of the pulp. Drizzle with olive oil until coated. Dust with Cinnamon and salt and mix well. Spread the seeds over a cookie sheet (cover the sheet with foil for easy clean up) and place in the oven checking and moving frequently until lightly golden. Seeds should have a light crunchy texture when eaten.

 

 

 

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