Early spring is when the harvest seasons meet. The cycle of the year is tangible when last summer’s hardy keepers extend through to this year’s sugaring season, and the two years are combined in the kitchen. Winter squash and pumpkins store well, (as do the onions needed for this recipe) and they are so compatible with maple syrup, it seems almost unimaginable that they would be harvested at opposite ends of the year.
- 1 winter squash such as butternut, red kuri, acorn or buttercup
- 1 pie pumpkin
- whole spices such as cinnamon stick, star anise, cloves
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1-2 onions, chopped
- 1/4 inch slice fresh ginger root, minced
- 6 cups water, stock or sap (should you be tapping maples and have sap to spare)
- 1/2 cup maple syrup (if not cooking in sap)
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- milk, cream or coconut milk
- any combination of ground spices you like such as cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, curry, allspice, etc.
- salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- a drizzle of hot sauce or a sprinkling of chili flakes (if you like a little spice)
- garnish with creme fraîche or yogurt and freshly ground nutmeg (optional)
- Pre-heat oven to 400˚.
- Half the squash and pumpkin, remove the seeds (save for roasting or planting), and place cut side down in a shallow baking dish. Fill dish with about 1 inch of water and add whole spices to the water. Roast in oven until soft (about 40-50 minutes, depending on size). Remove from oven and allow to cool.
- Melt butter in a skillet, and sauté onions until translucent. Add minced ginger, cover and lower heat to caramelize for another 20 minutes.
- Scoop the cooked pumpkin and squash out of the skin (should come out easily) into a large soup pot, add the onion-ginger mixture, and stock, water or sap. Bring to a soft boil for 5-10 minutes.
- Turn off heat, add maple syrup, vinegar, milk and ground spices to taste.
- In a blender or food processor, puree all until smooth. Adjust consistency with additional milk, stock or water as needed, and adjust flavor with salt, pepper and/or additional spices. Serve immediately, or return to soup pot and reheat. Serve with creme fraîche or yogurt, hot sauce, ground nutmeg and/or roasted pumpkin seeds.