>Squash Caramel

>It’s squash season, so I tore a recipe for squash soup out of the Wall Street Journal (Oct. 20-21) and picked up a large acorn squash at the Ballard Market.

It wasn’t until I began making the recipe that I realized the “Roasted Squash Soup with Brown Butter” was one squash, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and one cup plus two teaspoons of butter. That’s not soup, that’s squash-flavored carmel sauce. Somewhere at the Wall Street Journal, a recipe writer is out of his or her gourd.

I found it particularly bizarre because the recipe starts by having you split, seed, and roast the squash, which will carmelize the vegetable’s abundant natural sugars and make additional sugar pretty much overkill — in every sense of the word.

So while my (unsugared but lightly buttered) squash roasted, I went back to the drawing board with the rest of the recipe to see what I could do to replace the butter with something a bit more appetizing.

I ended up sauteeing some naturally sweet vegetables — chopped sweet onions, a chopped red pepper, and three chopped carrots — in a little bit of butter. Then I added water to cover the veggies and dropped in three stalks of celery (to be removed later, before pureeing the soup) and left that to simmer.

After the squash finished roasting, I removed the skin and added the squash to the vegetable soup, and then removed the fibrous celery. Then I left the soup to cool (so it could be pureed later in the blender).

To get the browned butter flavor, I reduced the cup (16 tablespoons) of butter called for in the recipe to 2 tablespoons and followed the fairly involved directions for melting and boiling the butter, which concludes by setting the saucepan in an ice bath to get the golden brown butter separated from the milk solids. That butter is then added to the pureed soup.

(I did it, but it was a pain. I wonder if an interesting oil could be added instead — sesame perhaps?)

The recipe winds up with cayenne, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, vinegar, lemon juice, and salt added to the puree, which is then gently heated before serving. I pulled back quite a bit on these final additions; my soup was less rich and sweet and thus needed less sharp flavoring to “cut” it.

The final soup got Zorg’s “yum” of approval, and I’ll be cooking it again.

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