Meet the potimarron or Hokkaido squash, a Japanese variety of squash with a very distinct chestnut flavor. These little guys (this one weighs approximately 2.2 pounds) are quite popular in France and as it is winter squash season, are readily available at our local farmers' market. For weeks now I have been telling Ribbit that I am going to make potimarron soup and last Sunday I finally dug up a recipe: hokkaido squash with cinnamon. The market vendor recommended that I leave the skin on to fully appreciate the chesnutty flavor. The recipe and the preparation could not have been easier:
For two generous servings:
2 pound Hokkaido squash
2 tablespoon of unsalted butter
1 rounded teaspoon of coarse salt
1 cup of water
fresh grated cinnamon to taste (I used 1 tablespoon)
2 cups milk (the original recipe called for cream (1 cup) but I prefer my soup less creamy)
Cut the squash in half, scrape out the seeds and dice into 2 inch cubes, leaving the skin on. In a large pot melt butter, then add cubed squash, water and salt. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes to avoid burning. Add more water if mixtures appears too thick.
When cubes are totally soft, add cinnamon. Wait until mixture has cooled to add milk or cream. For a smoother texture, puree in blender. Top with chervil and serve warm.
The soup was hearty and flavorful but for those who do not like chestnuts, I highly recommened peeling the squash before cooking. In fact, Ribbit and I did not finish our respective bowls because the chestnut flavor was just a little too much to take. I think that this preparation would actually work better as a purée (minus the milk) to serve along side a roasted meat, like roastbeef or as a tiny soup that you serve to guests as an amuse bouche before the appetizer.
Potimarron soup was not the only adventure in the kitchen on Sunday. Ribbit's cousins who live in the countryside near Rouen paid us a visit on Friday night and brought along a sack full of delicious fresh-picked(and untreated!) apples from their orchard.
Having grown up in the Pacific Northwest, I think I have apples in my bloodstream. Nothing compares to the crunch and spray when biting into a freshly picked apple. But what to do with five pounds of apples? Make homemade applesauce. And really, its as easy as (apple) pie!
As many apples, cored, peeled and quartered, as you can fit into a pot. If you have a food mill, you can pop them with the cores and skins. After your pot is stuffed with apples, fill it with 1/2 inch of water. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes or until totally mushy. Add a dash of cinnamon and homemade vanilla extract if so inclined. Serve warm or room temperature.