Our current Cook the Books Club selection is Midnight Chicken by Ellen Risbridger1, a cookbook with stories. The most exciting thing for me related to this book is that I was able to get the electronic version from the library (biblioteca). I am still not sure how I got the various pieces to work, but one day, I clicked on a link in an email and pretty soon I could open the book in my e-reader. I don't think this is the best solution for cookbooks (seeing as the kitchen is not the best environment for electronics), but for reading it is great. I am already half-way into the second book I borrowed.
Risbridger talks about her life and about how cooking helped her in moments of particular difficulty. She is open about her mental health and her struggles. She lives in London and her shopping and cooking are influenced by the urban environment. She favors prepackaged vegetables, like cleaned and cut winter squash, and canned legumes and wonders who makes homemade puff pastry (I do). Her ingredients are British, like self-raising flour.
I was not inspired to make any of the recipes, but one of them reminded me that red beets are called beetroots in England and that inspired me to grab a beautiful bunch of them at the farmers market, with their glorious greens (foglie di barbabietola) still attached. In our household we LOVE beet greens so those disappeared fast. The book includes a recipe for Butternut squash mash, which reminded of a recipe I made some time ago that brings together those two ingredients into a bright soup that is just perfect for when the weather is gray and cold.
This time I used honeynut squash, a relatively new variety of winter squash2 which I introduced in a post last year.3 Honeynut squash looks like a mini butternut squash: it has the same elongated shape, solid neck, bulbous end, but it is smaller, darker in color and sweeter in flavor. This year, a local farmer grew it, so I've been able to find it at the market. Given its small size, it is perfect for recipes where you don't need a large squash.
Print-friendly version of briciole's recipe for Honeynut squash and red beet soup
- 8 ounces / 225 grams red beets
- 18-20 ounces / 510-565 grams honeynut squash
- 2 tablespoons / 30 ml extra-virgin olive oil
- 6 ounces / 170 grams red onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon / 15 ml grated fresh ginger
- 3 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon hot paprika powder
- 1 cup / 240 ml chicken or vegetable broth, preferably homemade
- 2 cups / 475 ml water
- 1/2-3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, to taste
If you purchase a bunch of red beets with their greens, cut off the greens about 1 inch / 2.5 cm from the root and cook them as soon as possible like you would other types of dark leafy greens.
The honeynut squash and beets are roasted before being used in the soup. This step can be done in advance.
Heat the oven to 375 F / 190 C. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat.
Scrub the beets, wrap them in aluminum foil and place them on the baking sheet.
Cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds (a grapefruit spoon works well to do this). Place the squash halves on the prepared baking sheet, cut side down.
Bake the squash until it's tender enough to pierce easily with a blade, about 40 minutes.
Bake the red beets until easily pierced with a knife, an additional 20 minutes or so.
Let the squash cool then scrape the flesh off the skin with a spoon.
Let the red beets cool until easy to handle, then slip off the skin. Cube the beets and set them aside.
Warm up the olive oil in a soup pot on medium heat, then add the onion, stirring well to coat. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the ginger and stir. Cover and cook on gentle heat for another 8 minutes, until the onion is soft, stirring often. Add the garlic, coriander, cumin and hot paprika, stir and cook for 1 minute.
Add the squash and the red beets to the pot, stir and add the broth and water. Bring the soup ring to a boil, covered, then turn down the heat so the soup bubbles gently. Cook for 15 minutes, then remove the pot from heat. Season with the salt and stir. Let the soup rest, covered, for 15-30 minutes, then purée it with an immersion blender.
Making the soup at least a few hours before serving will allow it to rest and ripen.
When ready to eat, heat the soup, ladle it in bowls and serve immediately.
I like the bright red color and the sweet and spicy flavor of this nourishing soup.
1 An article with author's interview on NPR
2 Bon Appétit article on honeynut squash
3 My post and recipe for Honeynut squash, blue cheese and walnut bites
Click on the button to hear me pronounce the Italian words mentioned in the post:
zuppa di zucca e barbabietola rossa
or launch the zuppa di zucca e barbabietola rossa audio file [mp3].
[Depending on your set-up, the audio file will be played within the browser or by your mp3 player application. Please, contact me if you encounter any problems.]
This is my contribution to the current selection of our Cook the Books hosted by Debra of Eliot's Eats. (You can find the guidelines for participating in the event on this page.)
I am contributing my soup also to Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays, a weekly event created by Cook the Books club co-host Deb of Kahakai Kitchen.
Love the color of that soup and I need to find a Honeynut squash. I agree with you about trying to use an ebook cookbook. I'm not a fan of that either. I need a hardcopy in the kitchen.
Posted by: Debra Eliotseats | January 18, 2022 at 02:39 PM
I agree, my Kindle is so much easier on my eyes. Though I do have eye surgery coming up, which will hopefully improve things. Your soup looks lovely and sounds amazing. Lately I haven't been able to get beets with the greens attached, which generally causes me to just avoid them.
Posted by: Claudia | January 20, 2022 at 05:52 PM
Thank you, Debra. I hope you can find a Honeynut squash to try. It's become one of my favorite squashes. I tend to be messy in the kitchen so I cannot have items that may be irreparably ruined :)
I hope the surgery goes well, Claudia. I am with you regarding beets and their greens. That applies also to other root vegetables, like salad turnips, which are favorites of mine :)
Posted by: Simona Carini | January 21, 2022 at 09:27 AM
A beautiful color on that soup! I'm not sure I have ever tried honeynut squash.
Thanks for sharing it with Souper Sundays this week too! ;-)
Posted by: Deb in Hawaii | January 30, 2022 at 10:30 PM
I hope you find some honeynut squash to try, Deb: it's quite nice. And you're welcome :)
Posted by: Simona Carini | February 03, 2022 at 06:06 PM
That soup looks amazing. My husband loves beet soup and I love squash soup so we can both be happy.
Posted by: Wendy Klik | February 05, 2022 at 04:05 PM
I guess I have to concur that I expected more of a "book" than a collection of recipes but it was interesting to fly through them. Farmers market fare always inspires me and this certainly does
Posted by: Delaware Girl Eats | February 06, 2022 at 04:17 PM
Thank you, Wendy. You can clearly taste both beets and squash in the soup so I think you'd both be happy with it :)
Going to the farmers market is indeed always exciting and inspiring, Cathy :)
Posted by: Simona Carini | February 07, 2022 at 09:01 PM
I've never tried squash or beets in soup, but it sounds delish and it looks beautiful.
Posted by: Deb Nance at Readerbuzz | February 11, 2022 at 04:25 AM
I recommend doing both, Deb. Using different types of winter squash gives you slightly different soups, which is fun :)
Posted by: Simona Carini | February 18, 2022 at 09:09 PM
Love this color, looks like tomato sauce. And thanks for sharing this recipe.
Posted by: Tanvir Ahmed | April 07, 2022 at 10:46 AM