Autumn is what we call "soup season" at my house. And I love winter squash. I've been inspired to try different kinds, not just acorn and butternut. One of my favorites, kabocha, I first discovered in a Japanese restaurant, steamed in a bento box, and I searched for it for months till it started appearing in markets. That was years ago; now it is more readily available, it seems.
This season I came across a bright orange Hubbard squash. I've tried a Blue Hubbard before; they really are blue on the outside, but not inside--the one I tried had yellow flesh. But this was my first Hubbard that wasn't blue at all. And as it turns out, the texture and "meatiness" of the orange Hubbard is quite similar to my fave, the kabocha.
When I make a soup that's not from a recipe, I like to come up with one or two ingredients that will go well together, then just "riff" on what to add. My Hubbard squash soup started with the squash, obviously, then a search of the fridge for leftover greens. I found a bunch of lacinato kale, slightly wilted, that would work nicely. Next I cast about for a suitable protein--I decided on Great Northern beans, but poultry or sausage would also have worked beautifully. If I had had meat that needed to be cooked I would have used that--pretty much with soup you can use whatever you have at hand. So with my 3 main ingredients I had the makings of a complete meal.
I peeled, seeded, and cubed the squash first, since I figured it would take longest to cook. I got that started in a big pot with enough water to cover the squash, and threw in a chopped onion for flavor. I made a similar soup recently with a cubed pumpkin where I used 2 large onions cut in big pieces because I wanted the onions to be more present as a vegetable, but in this soup I didn't want the onion to be quite so prominent.
I got the kale chopped and added along with a can of beans, a bay leaf, and more boiling water (I like to keep a full kettle hot on the stove to add as needed without slowing the cooking). And then the fun started.
Seasoning is where you really make the soup your own. I start with my own mental "goes with..." list. For example, my pumpkin soup combined pumpkin pie seasoning (cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, etc.), but with salt instead of sugar as a savory twist. This squash soup, however, relied on fresh thyme and ginger. The pie-spice idea was still on my mind, too, so I added nutmeg and a cinnamon stick. Then the crowning touch--ground cardamon.
I let that all cook for awhile till the squash had cooked and started to disintegrate, which made the soup thicker, with a creamy texture and yellow color. At this point you could add a grain, such as a wild rice mix, but I decided to leave this one alone. I salted to taste and cooked the soup a bit longer for the salt to integrate. This soup was so good!