Monday, November 23, 2009

Kabocha, Beer and Cheese Soup

Due to CSA-induced extreme squash consumption several years ago, there has been a winter squash strike in our house for a while now. If we can eat and love this soup, so can the staunchest winter squash hater at your Thanksgiving table! (Booze and cheese will do that for a vegetable). This recipe was inspired by the pumpkin rarebit soup from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest. Here, we've used kabocha squash, which is less stringy and watery than a regular pumpkin. You can also try this with a buttercup squash.

For the lactose-intolerant or otherwise cheese-avoiding readers, this is also good without the cheese.

1 large kabocha squash
2 tablespoons butter
3 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
1 large onion, sliced into rings
Vegetable stock, as needed, up to 1 cup
1 12-ounce bottle of beer (we like pale ale)
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 375. Cut squash into eighths and bake, covered, until tender, about 40 minutes. Meanwhile, heat butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are browned and soft.

When squash is done, slice off skin and transfer pieces to a food processor with the caramelized onions and garlic. Add just enough stock to blend to a smooth puree. Transfer to the saucepan, add the beer, salt to taste and simmer for 10 minutes.

Ladle into ramekins and top with the cheese, then broil until cheese is bubbly and starting to brown. (Or, if you're not feeling like ramekins, you can just stir in the cheese, add a little extra stock and simmer a few minutes longer). Let sit for a few minutes before serving to prevent serious internal mouth burns!

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