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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Inspired by Ingredients

David and I receive a CSA box every other week.  When it comes time to look at what is in the box and decide on any changes, it goes something like this:

Krista:  Ooh, I've never eaten celery root before.  We should totally get that.

David:  What would we do with celery root?  Let's get some more kale.

Krista:  I don't know what I'd do with the celery root, that's why we have to get it!

I win only because I'm usually the one to remember to make the changes. 

In our last box, we received something referred to as "seasonal gourds."  They sure were pretty, but I had no idea what they were.  They have the coloring of delicata squash, but are round like kabocha squash.  If you can identify them, please let me know:

The mystery gourds

Right after Halloween, I remember another food blogger hollowing out small pumpkins (I wish I could remember who it was!) and using the flesh as the basis for a soup that was then served inside the pumpkins.  It looked great, and it was a lot healthier than the bread soup bowls I was really craving.  I was serious when I said that I was going to try to eat (mostly) healthy through the holidays, and sadly that means decreasing the number of carbs that I ate from last week's high.

The problem was that once the seeds were removed, the squash didn't have very much meat to them.  I was going to have to get creative.

All right, I missed a couple of seeds. So sue me.

The problem with cooking by the seat of your pants is that you (OK, I) don't stop to write down what I'm doing.  I've attempted to recreate the soup I made with the gourds, which was deliciously creamy and satisfying while staying low in fat.  Garnish the soup with a little something succulent and salty for extra flavor.  I used crispy pancetta for David's bowl, and a smattering of blue cheese for my bowl.  You'll never miss the meat.

I say that, but of course the bowl I took a picture of was the one topped with pancetta!

Creamy Squash Soup
Inspired by flavors from A16 Food+Wine

4 small round edible gourds
4 small red potatoes
4 tbsp. olive oil
2 cups 2% milk
1/2 poblano pepper, seeded and minced
1 small shallot, minced
2 tbsp. crumbled blue cheese
Kosher salt and freshly-ground pepper
 Pan-fried sliced pancetta or blue cheese crumbles for garnish

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

Slice the tops from the gourds and set aside.  Scoop the seeds from the gourds and rub all over with one and a half tablespoons of the olive oil. 

Scrub and quarter the potatoes and toss them with half a tablespoon of olive oil, some salt and pepper.

Place the gourds and their lids on a baking sheet and bake for approximately half an hour.  At the half-hour mark, the lids should be done and can be removed.

Add the potatoes to the baking sheet and bake for another twenty minutes, until the potatoes are roasted and the gourds are tender.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow the gourds to cool enough to scoop the flesh out of them.

While the squash are cooling, saute the poblano pepper over medium heat in a tablespoon of the olive oil until it is lightly brown around the edges.  Add the shallots and saute until they are golden.

Scoop the flesh out of the gourds and discard any seeds.  Place the flesh in a food processor, along with the potatoes and a cup of milk.  Process for a minute or two until you have a very thick puree, then add salt and pepper to taste.  Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and process again. 

Transfer the puree to a small saucepan and add the remaining milk and the shallot/poblano mixture, stirring to combine.  Heat on low until the mixture is thoroughly warmed, then add the crumbled blue cheese.  If the mixture is still too thick, add a bit more milk. 

If desired, add more salt and pepper and serve immediately in the hollowed gourds with a side salad.  The dressing from this post went beautifully with the flavors in the soup (plus I had some left over in the refrigerator).

The soup may be garnished with either thin slices of crispy pancetta or blue cheese crumbles.

Serves four as a main course.


  1. looks so yummy,I love creamy soup :0

  2. This sounds delicious! Beautiful in the bowls, and the blue cheese is a nice touch paired with the squash!

  3. Oh,man, your soup looks so creamy and wonderful! I might have to use both toppings :) YUM.

  4. Wow, what a great soup and presentation, looks beautiful:)

  5. That's brilliant! And what a gorgeous presentation :) Looks sooo creamy and yummy.

  6. After looking at so many squash recipes I am tempted to make this weekend.

  7. That one looks wonderful. I was so carried away by the thought of making it. Hurriedly clicked on publish comment.

  8. This looks delicious! Squash is a sure bet to a silky creamy soup. Love the presentation.
    Getting a CSA box does inspire you, especially if you get to choose. I like the thought of getting something you have never prepared!

  9. Now that looks like one delicious creamy soup! I love that you cooked with mystery veggies. Great way to try something new. I think you picked the right stuff. :)

  10. Thanks for the comments!

    @Balvinder, let me know if you make it and if you find any good variations! I think this would also work with butternut squash and could even use a little more spice than what I gave it.

  11. How creative with something you didn't even know what it was! They would have sat out as decoration here :)

  12. Tasty soup and incredible presentation!!! Nicely done sweetie!!!

  13. You did a great job with this foreign gourd! This soup looks so perfectly creamy and delicious! Love the pancetta on top!

  14. Nice outcome with the squash and love the way you have served it,esp with the greens plus the cheese on top is so inviting.

  15. I've seen a lot of people presenting the squash like this and I'm so intrigued to try one myself! I love the individual serving like this so we can use it for a party!

  16. Love the presentation and your soup looks so rich and creamy!

  17. I love experimenting with new foods, well done!!!

  18. I wouldn't miss the meat - but have never seen "edible gourds." If you're making soup - I am so there.

  19. Wow, not only does this look beautiful, but it sounds delicious too! What a wonderful winter dinner :)

  20. That soup looks so creamy and delicious! I have an acorn squash I have to use this week, I'll keep this recipe in mind :-)