Friday, October 17, 2014

Farmbox Direct & Winter Squash Soup

Squash, pomegranate, turnips, carrots, pear, apple, grapefruit, lemon, cucumber, green beans,
kiwi berries, garlic, tiny onions, and Havarti cheese. Whew!
I recently was approached by organic produce delivery service Farmbox Direct asking if I would be interested in their product. Of course I was, so they sent me a free box of goodies, which you can see above. Farmbox Direct offers three sizes of boxes at three price points, the box I received was a small, one person, box.

Farmbox Direct founder Ashley Turner hand-picks all of the USDA Certified Organic producers that her company uses, including the dairy farmers and bakers whose products can also be added to a shipment. Each week, subscribers get an email with information on the contents of that week's box. They are then able to make up to five substitutions (swapping out apples for additional lemons, for example) and add other grocery items to their shipment. Boxes and packing material are eco-friendly, and shipping is FedEx Periship, for perishable goods.

I think programs like Farmbox Direct are great for folks who don't want to subscribe to a traditional CSA, which involves regular weekly deliveries and payment in advance. If you don't want a box one week, with Farmbox Direct, you can skip it. It's ideal for people like us, who, for work purposes, end up eating dinner in restaurants more often than not, and can't always use up an entire shipment in one week.

If you want more information on Farmbox Direct, check out their Web site.

So what did we do with all of our produce? Well, the onions, some garlic, pomegranate and the squashes went into this yummy soup.

I've seen a lot of squash and pumpkin soups that are more like a puree than an actual soup. Soup shouldn't stand up in a mound in the bowl! This recipe has plenty of broth, so it's pleasantly thick but not a porridge. And the warm spices make the common squash seem almost exotic.

Spiced Winter Squash Soup

3 round winter squash (acorn, turban, sweet dumpling, etc.)
Olive oil
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground paprika
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup whipping cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Pomegranate arils

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Cut squashes in half and scoop out the seeds. Cut each half into quarters. Place squash pieces on a foil-lined baking sheet. Rub each piece with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast until pieces are very tender and starting to caramelize, about an hour. Remove from oven and cool long enough to handle.

When cool, remove squash pulp from rinds with a spoon. Discard rinds. Put pulp in a blender, in 3-4 batches, and puree. You might need to add a little water if you don't have a high speed blender.

Melt the four tablespoons of butter in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent and just starting to brown. Stir in the garlic and cook an additional minute or so. Add the squash puree, spices, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a bare simmer. Cook for 30 minutes before stirring in the cream. Taste for seasoning and remove from the heat.

Serve garnished with pomegranate arils and pistachios.

Makes at least 2 quarts.

* Any products in this post that are mentioned by name may have been provided to Minxeats by the manufacturer. However, all opinions belong to Minxeats.

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