Acorn Squash, Brown Rice, and Winter Greens Soup
Source: Charles Vollmar, Epicurean Exchange
This recipe was demonstrated for CUESA’s Market to Table program on December 14, 2013.
1 medium Danish (Acorn) squash, stem removed, cut in half, and seeded
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for brushing and drizzling, divided
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons butter, divided
3 scallions, minced (both white and green parts)
2 teaspoons garlic powder
3 cups coarsely chopped chard (or other greens of choice: spinach, kale, etc.)
¾ cup coarsely chopped roasted pumpkin seeds, divided
2 cups cooked brown rice (prepare according to package directions)
½ onion, cut into ¼-inch dice
1 carrot, peeled, cut into ¼-inch dice
2 stalks celery, cut into ¼-inch dice
1 to 2 bay leaves (depending on size)
3 to 4 cups chicken broth
1 to 2 tablespoons agave nectar, or to taste
1 to 2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Brush the squash halves with olive oil and sprinkle with the cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Bake, cut side up, for 30 to 40 minutes or until soft. Allow the squash to cool, and then scoop out the flesh (approximately 2 cups purée).
2. In a medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon each of the olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add the scallions and garlic powder and sauté until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the chopped greens and fold together until just wilted, 1 to 2 minutes more. Remove from heat, fold in ½ cup of the chopped seeds, and season with salt and pepper. Remove to a plate and spread in a thin layer to cool. Once cool, in a bowl combine the greens mixture with the prepared rice. Add a touch of olive oil to separate the grains and adjust the seasoning. Set aside.
3. In a medium-sized saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon each of olive oil and butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and bay leaves and sauté, stirring frequently, until the onions are tender, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the squash purée and enough chicken stock to cover the vegetables (2 to 3 cups). Bring the soup to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes until the carrots are soft.
4. Remove the bay leaves (important!). In a blender, purée the soup until very smooth. Return the soup to the pot and bring to a simmer. Adjust the consistency with the remaining chicken stock. The soup should be medium thickness, but not too thin. Add the agave nectar, to taste, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
5. To serve, ladle the soup into serving bowls. Place ½ to ¾ cup of the rice mixture in the center of the soup, top with the remaining pumpkin seeds and some pomegranate seeds, and serve immediately