Throughout much of 2021, I was dealing with extensive dental work including implants and extractions. Therefore, I needed to eat soft and mostly smooth foods. If I didn’t follow these simple directions and exerted effort to chew harder foods, like sandwiches, steaks, carrots, nuts and the like, even chips or crunchy foods, I would need to eat like a chipmunk while using my still natural-intact front teeth. This depressed me. To help me through this time I contacted a cooking site I’m a member of and checked the internet to see about useful recipes for soft foods, particularly those with soups.
A few years earlier, one winter, a friend tipped me off to delicata squash, selectively available at grocery stores late summer and fall. I had never heard of this vegetable, but it certainly cught my eye with its stripp I easily roasted a few easily, once cut in half and seeded, in the oven and enjoyed its different sweet and nutty taste. The skin, not as hard as other winter squashes, like butternut or acorn, it was a new vegetable for me with its tender skin. I soon learned through more research it could be transformed into a creamy soup. I adjusted several recipes to fit with my own ideas from years of soup making, adding vegetables to bump up its flavor and sweetness. This squash, along with enjoying zucchini in the summer as a soup, or cooked quite soft, were ideal with my then-current diet restrictions.
INGREDIENTS Serves 4-6
3 medium delicata squash, sliced lengthwise, 2 – 2 1/2 lbs.
1 large onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped (optional, or 1/8th hunk of a green cabbage, chopped)
2 tsp. salt, divided
1/2 tsp. pepper
3 – 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1-2 cups half and half or milk
3 Tbsp butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 tsp. worchestershire sauce
1/2 -1 tsp dried herb, such as thyme, winter savory, oregano , basil or rosemary
1 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds, cut a small part of the ends off. With a pastry brush or spoon spread 2 tablespoons of the olilve oil on all the inner surfaces of the squash. Sprinkle the inner surfaces genrously with salt and pepper. Place the squash, cut side down on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper, adding the remaining tablespoon of oil in the pan. Roast 30-40 minutes until tender, turning once. Remove from the oven and cool.
2 In a large frying pan, melt the butter on low. Add the carrots, cook on medium high for 3 minutes sitrring occasionally. Add the onions, cabbage or celery. Cook on low-medium until tender and translucent, but not brown, about 10-12 minutes. For the last 2 minutes add the garlic, stirring sometimes, making sure to keep the heat on low, so as not to burn the garlic. Turn the heat off.
3 Once the squash has cooled, carefully scrap the flesh out of the dark green skin, adding it to the pan with t he vegetables. If you wish, add the skin too since it is eatable, but it is slightly tough. Cook, on medium- low, mashing the squash now and then for 5-7 minutes.
4 Stir in the broth as you continue to mash the sqush. Add one cup of milk or half and half and add the other cup of half and half, or part of it, if you want more, thinner or richer soup. Cook everything 20-30 on medium -low as the ingredients blend. Keep everything cooking at a simmer. Do not let it boil. Stir occasionally.
5 Puree part or all of the soup with an emmersion blender in the soup, or use a blender or food processor. Season addtionally with salt and pepper, serve warm or at room temperature and top with a dusting of herbs.
TIPS AND TWEAKS:
- For a richer soup, substitute heavy cream for some of the half and half.
- Use both celery and cabbage, or add a small amount of another vegetable, such as brussel sprouts, or bok choy.
- Add paprika for color and light seasoning.
- Use 2 leeks instead of the onion, but clean t hem well.
- Try the soup using butternut squash, but peel the squash.