My friend Chryssa made the first butternut squash soup I tasted, and it was so good that I became a frequent customer of her little bistro, Rancho Pinot, in Phoenix. She and her partner Tom opened this little place on an absolute shoe string in a little strip mall by a Trader Joe’s. The good ingredients available at TJ’s helped them out during many an unexpected rush, as they would dash down for a little piece of this or that. I doubt that she does that anymore, 20 years later, even though when they moved, and expanded the restaurant, they did end up within shouting distance of a different TJ’s in Scottsdale. Anyway you look at it, they do wonderful food, are great people, and from what I read of them on-line are still doing a great business, and have helped launch a great farmer’s market in Phoenix, and are very involved in the local farm and food communities.
I was thinking of Chryssa and Tom as I made my version of Butternut Squash soup, incorporating local flavors by using the wonderful Buffalo Rock ginger ale, which gives the soup a great spicy kick. This enhances the great blend of the squash and ginger, balancing out the sweetness with tart spiciness.
I was prepping the soup for a demonstration I did recently at for the Saturday Market at Pepper Place, which is absolutely my favorite place to spend a Saturday morning enjoying the wonderful food displays, the farmer/vendors, the people watching, the musicians. To me there is no better place to go to look for food inspirations. I am honored to have been a part of its inception and its growth from 7 tents of veggies and fruit. These days there can be up to 100 tents, and the this year the market opened in April and will be open until December 17 to showcase the fall vegetables and holiday craft and gift ideas.
There is plenty of butternut squash these days, as well as lots of cooler weather veggies, still some great tomatoes, awesome pastries and breads. I will see you down there for coffee some Saturday morning.
SPICY GINGER ALE BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP
3 lbs butternut squash
3 TB oil, or clarified butter
2 cups onions, diced
2 tsp curry powder (more or less to taste)
2 tsp powdered ginger (more or less to taste)
2 cups white wine
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock To taste salt, pepper, Mrs. Dash seasoning
2 cans Buffalo Rock Ginger Ale (a southern spicy ginger ale)
2 cups heavy cream 4 oz. Bacon cut into pieces and cooked (optional)
2 tart apples, peeled and diced (optional)
Cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise. Remove seeds. Place on a baking dish, sprayed with a little pan spray.
Add a little water, just to keep the squash from browning. If the squash are small, just roast in the oven, If the squash are larger, consider covering with foil to keep the steam inside the dish.
When the squash is soft, allow to cool, and remove pulp from skins. Reserve the pulp.
Saute onion in the oil or butter until soft Add the curry powder and powdered ginger.
Deglaze with the white wine. Reduce by two thirds.
Add the stock, and allow to simmer for 20 minutes. Add the ginger ale, and allow to simmer an additional 10 minutes.
Add the cream and bring to a simmer.
Season to taste with salt, pepper, Mrs.
Dash Serve garnished with optional bacon bits and/or apple