Well, maybe we just won't get a summer this year?
Growing up blocks from the garden, I am used to cold and foggy summers. I remember heading back from Camp Mather, my warm tanned skin tingling as we passed into the wet fog. So many Main picnics ended with a blustery trip across the Golden Gate Bridge and so many times I waited for the N Judah as cold wind whipped along in mid-July.
But this year, we seemed to have skipped our hot, dry early fall as well. This week has brought warmer temperatures but also rain, and unseasonal humidity, followed by more cold. Rather than lament the summer that never came, I'm going full steam ahead into fall. Last week, I saw a stale loaf of bread on my counter and assessed what else I had in the kitchen to make dinner. Bread became croutons to top a winter squash and celery root soup. This soup is particularly easy since you roast all the vegetables in the oven first before simmering and blending. It was cozy, comforting, and belly warming - a perfect way to start the season.
Winter Squash and Celery Root Soup
Based on this recipe by Martha Stewart
1 winter squash (I had kabocha squash but red kuri, butternut or acorn would do), cut in half and seeds removed*
1 celery root peeled and medium diced
1 yellow onion, peeled and quartered
4 garlic cloves, whole, skin on
1 tsp. fennel seed
Chicken or vegetable stock (I used about 1.5 quarts but really depends on how big your squash is)
Grated cheese (gruyere, parmesan, or a mixture of both!) for finishing
Stale country bread, diced into 3/4 inch cubes
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and pull out a cookie sheet. Rub olive oil on the cut sides of the squash, sprinkle with salt, and place two garlic cloves in each half. Flip the squash over, cut side down on the cookie sheet. Take the celery root, onions and fennel seeds and toss with olive oil. Spread out in the remaining space on the cookie sheet.
Roast for about 25-30+ minutes, tossing the cut veggies a couple of times. When the cut vegetables are caramelized and the squash is soft take the cookie sheet out of the oven. Place the vegetables into a large dutch oven or soup pot. When cool enough to handle, scoop the squash out of its skin and add to the pot, along with the broth. Place the pot on the stove and bring the broth to a boil. Once boiling, turn the flame down to a simmer and simmer for 30 minutes.
Let the soup cool slightly then blend with an immersion blender. If your soup is too thick, add more broth. If too thin, cook it down slightly on the stove.
To make croutons, toss bread with olive oil and salt. Toast on a toaster oven, or in the oven, until golden and crisp.
Ladle soup into bowls, top with some freshly ground pepper, a drizzle of olive oil, cheese and croutons. My sister brought us some of this chili honey so I drizzled a bit of that on top too.
* I find it easiest to just roast the squash in half if I don't need it diced. But, if you do need diced squash, I learned a great, easy way!