After I lost my entire crop of Delicata squash last year to bacterial wilt (one bite by the striped cucumber beetle is enough to spread the disease), I almost lost this year’s crop to frost. The squashes were stored in the shed, the nights were getting very cold, and I was not paying attention. Luckily I rescued them with only a couple of them turning into mush.
Two 1-gallon bags of Delicata went into the freezer. What I could not fit into the second bag went into this soup. In this recipe I followed my winter squash credo that only roasting in the oven really brings out the flavor of winter squash, that’s why soup often tastes bland.Delicata Squash Soup with Chestnuts and Apple
20 fresh unpeeled chestnuts
2 tablespoons olive oil
20 ounces peeled, cubed and seeded Delicata squash
3 stalks leek, finely chopped
1 large Macintosh apple, peeled, cored and chopped
2 tablespoons chopped candied ginger
¼ teaspoon ground mace
5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
¼ cup dry sherry
Freshly ground white pepper
1. Check the chestnuts for worms (pests are lurking not only in Delicata!). Soak them in cold water for 1 hour.
2. Preheat the oven to 390 degrees F and place a large ungreased heavy baking sheet on the middle rack.
3. Drain the chestnuts. Cut an x in the rounded side of each chestnut using a serrated knife.
4. Spread the chestnuts onto the hot baking sheet and roast until they pop open, about 10 to 15 minutes. Cool slightly.
5. Mix the squash with 1 tablespoon olive oil and place in one layer in a large baking dish in the preheated oven. Roast until the squash is soft and slightly brown in some spots, about 25 to 30 minutes, turning once or twice.
6. Peel the chestnuts while still warm. Also completely remove the fibrous inner skin. Cut chestnuts in half.
7. When the squash is done, heat the remaining tablespoon olive oil in a large pot. Cook the leek over low-medium heat until soft, about 10 minutes.
8. Add the squash, chestnuts, apple, ginger, mace, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce the temperature and cook covered, 15 to 20 minutes, until the chestnuts can be easily squished.
9. Puree the soup and pass it through a food mill. Return it to the pot and reheat. Add the sherry and season with salt and pepper. If the soup is too thick, add more chicken broth or water. Serve hot.
Makes 8 servings