Having finished bemoaning the local delicacies of our new town in upstate New York, I am now proud to share some of its finer culinary features. Our first “Yowza!” came when we visited our local supermarket, Wegman’s. I had been to another Wegman’s once before and while it was nice, it was nothing to write home about. But our local Wegman’s (appropriately dubbed the “yuppie Wegman’s” by one of my co-workers) is another beast entirely. There’s a tea bar, about 10 different “stations” ready to make you whatever you’d like to eat, a whole Le Creuset wall, and a giant natural foods section. But the real star for my is the produce department- I had never once found galangal in our Los Angeles supermarkets, but it’s here. Same for all sorts of other exotic fruits and veggies and I, for one, am excited to try my hand at cooking them in the years to come.
The other tremendous culinary find in our town is the Public Market, a huge pseudo-farmer’s market unlike any I’d visited in California. The California ones tend to be frequented by young, liberal affluent types (not unlike…ahem, myself), but this particular one in upstate New York draws everyone. Rich and poor, young and old, every race- everyone swarms to the Public Market on Saturday morning, making it decidedly chaotic and just a little unpleasant. Were we to go at 5:30 AM when it opens, it might be a little more peaceful, but for now, we’ve been braving the crowds. And why is it so crowded? Bargains, people. I haven’t seen such low prices since trekking around Eastern Europe a few years ago. Piles of eggplant, summer squash, peaches, and tomatoes being sold a rock bottom prices. It’s pretty amazing and inevitably leads to a complete glut in our crisper.
This past weekend at the market, I spotted the first winter squash of the season and so it seemed only appropriate to pull out this recipe from last year that I never got around to blogging. It’s a modern spin on the traditional butternut squash soup, something to make it a little more interesting. My version is a slight tweak on this recipe from Apartment Therapy- The Kitchen for sweet potato soup with miso and ginger. So embrace the falling leaves and the cooling air and warm up with a cup of soup inspired by fall’s most beloved veggie, the butternut squash.
Butternut Squash Soup with Miso and Ginger (serves 4-6)
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 2-inch chunk fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced – about 1/4 cup
1 butternut squash – peeled and cubed
3 tablespoons light miso (we used dark)
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth, or water
1 cup whole milk
Salt and pepper
1. Steam the butternut squash chunks (by putting them in a metal colander or strainer sitting over a pot of boiling water) for about 20 minutes or until soft. (You may be able to skip this step by cutting the chunks very small.)
2. Cook the onion and garlic in the olive oil until soft and translucent. Raise the heat a little and add the ginger. Fry until the ginger is fragrant. Add the squash and miso and continue frying a bit, then add the broth or water. Bring to a simmer then cover, turn the heat to low and let it cook for about 25 minutes. Take off the heat and puree in a blender or with an immersion blender.
3. Return to the heat and warm, whisking in the milk and salt and pepper to taste. If it’s too thick, whisk in a little extra milk until you get the consistency you want.