farmers market win; kabocha and seaweed

by Isobel

Down visiting California (where farmers markets seem to have everything at any given time of the year), I managed to find various kinds of (inexpensive) locally harvested seaweed, much to my surprise. Clearly a trip well spent; who needs wine country when you have vegetables (as long as one of those vegetables is rye…)

Back home in the Northwest, where it is officially sweater weather and the mornings seem to somehow smell of musty gore-tex, my local farmers market has broken out the stores of winter squashes, which is never a bad thing. This particular squash sat on the counter for about 2 weeks, because for once I decided to do something other than just bake it and eat it straight up until I turn orange, but I couldn’t decide what. In the end good things are best simple, and so I give you a happy union of my farmers market discoveries, in seasonally appropriate form:

Kabocha squash and wakame soup (makes about 6 servings)

1 medium kabocha squash, baked* (acorn or buttercup would probably work as well)

1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped

2-inch piece ginger, peeled and grated

1 tsp sesame oil

3 to 3 1/2 cups water

1/4 cup dried wakame seaweed

2 Tbsp white miso

2 tsp tamari soy sauce

Heat the oil in a medium stockpot and add chopped onion. Sautee until onion is translucent. Add ginger and cook another 30 seconds or so. Add tamari, water and wakame. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer until wakame is soft. Meanwhile, remove the skin from the baked squash (as far as I know the skin of kabocha is edible, but not so great in pureed soups), and add the squash flesh to the pot. Cook until squash is heated through, then add the miso. Using an immersion or standing blender, blend all the ingredients until pureed; add water to make it less thick, if you prefer.

Serve hot, or transfer to individual containers to freeze and reheat later.

*to bake winter squash: preheat the oven to 400° F. Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds. Place cut-side-down on a parchment lined baking tray and bake for about 40 minutes, or until the squash can be easily punctured with a fork (depending on the squash, it may take less than 40 minutes, so be sure to check occasionally).