Simple Winter Squash Soup

Winter squash is such an easy-going, versatile ingredient, amenable to an amazing array of flavor profiles and cuisines. Sometimes it's difficult to decide whether to go Thai curry or Indian curry, Italian with brown-butter sage, or just make a simple rustic, all-American soup. This soup uses chevre, mushrooms and apple syrup, and is one of those recipes in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Preparation

Ingredients
This recipe is very forgiving, so use whatever amounts you have and estimate at will.

-4 c. cooked winter squash (boiled, roasted or microwaved until very soft)
-Water or broth to puree to desired consistency (this will depend on the squash you use, start with a couple of cups and add more as needed or desired)
-1 share Shiitake, oyster or wild mushrooms (about half a pound), sliced or torn into thin strips
-3-4 cloves garlic, smashed with the side of your knife
-Olive oil
-1 8oz. tub chevre (I used black pepper chevre from Prairie Fruits)
- Ponoma's Ambrosia (this Blue Heron Apple Syrup, cooked down from apple cider is truly nectar of the gods)
- Salt and Pepper to taste

Cook squash ahead and remove flesh from skins (if you do this ahead, it's simply a matter of reheating and even faster to prepare). Rinse and prep mushrooms. Over medium high heat, pour a couple good glugs of olive oil in a heavy cast iron skillet large enough to accommodate mushrooms without going more than a layer or two deep. Once the mushrooms start to brown, add the smashed cloves of garlic continue cooking and stirring occasionally until it all browns and crisps up. You may need to reduce the heat so that they dry and crisp slowly rather than burn. Mash the softened garlic in the pan and stir to distribute. Salt and pepper to taste.

While mushrooms are cooking, add squash and water or broth into a soup pot and heat to a boil. Use a masher or hand blender to puree and cook to desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste, as well as a dash of garlic powder if you like. 

Stir in half a tub of chevre and heat through. Distribute into serving bowls and top with some mushrooms, chevre crumbles and a good drizzle of apple syrup. A couple of toasted pecan pieces might be a good addition, if you are so inclined. Serve immediately.

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Testimonials

Del Carmen has been a vendor for Fair Shares since 2009. We have developed a quality relationship based on trust. Our communications have been seamless. In addition, Fair Shares and its members have been great marketers for our products.  As a (very) small business, we are unable to advertise or market our products, so we have to rely on word of mouth.  Many of our customers are, were, or know Fair Shares members who have recommended our products.

Del Carmen has also benefitted from valuable ideas for use of existing products and suggestions in product development from the Fair Shares community.  I go to them for feedback, knowing I will get good, reliable and useful information.

We thank you, Fair Shares, for your support and commitment to del Carmen. We wish you much continued success.  After all, your success also helps the success of del Carmen and other local vendors and farmers.

Estie Cruz-Curoe, del Carmen Beans, St. Louis, MO