Winter in Niagara means comfort food and harvest vegetables and fruit. Think squash, potatoes, rutabaga, parsnips, apples and pears.
One of my favourite recipes is Roasted Squash Soup with Red Pepper Puree. I like to use buttercup squash for it’s rich taste and small seed pocket but if you can’t find any, butternut squash is a good substitute. St. David’s Produce grows wonderful coloured, hydroponic peppers in their greenhouses near Vineland.
1 buttercup or butternut squash (about 2 lbs)
1 red pepper
1 medium yellow onion
1 head garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 leaves fresh sage
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2-1/2 cups chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup Strewn Chardonnay or other dry white wine
Preheat oven to 400F. Cut squash in large chunks and remove seeds. Cut red pepper in half and remove seeds. Cut off root end of onion and cut onion into quarters. Cut slice off head of garlic. Place all vegetables, cut side up, in baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil; cover with foil and bake 45 minutes. Remove foil and place fresh herbs on vegetables. Return to oven and bake uncovered 30 minutes longer; remove and cool at least 10 minutes.
Set aside red pepper and 1/2 garlic head. Scoop flesh from squash into food processor. Remove onion from its skin and add to squash. Squeeze garlic from remaining 1/2 head into food processor. Add herbs, any pan juices and 1/2 cup stock; purée until smooth. Transfer to medium saucepan; stir in remaining stock, black pepper and Chardonnay. Heat soup.
Without cleaning food processor, squeeze remaining garlic, red pepper and lemon juice into it. Purée; set aside in small bowl. To serve, ladle soup into bowls and dollop red pepper purée into middle of each serving. Makes 4 servings.
Wine Match Up
With the soup’s rich taste and texture, the obvious choice of wine to serve is Chardonnay. We suggest the Strewn 1996 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay which is available at the LCBO (just ask for it if it’s not on the shelf). The wine was aged in American oak barrels and underwent a malolactic fermentation, resulting in a smooth, creamy finish with a hint of vanilla and butterscotch. This wine was awarded the trophy as Top Canadian Dry White Wine at the prestigious Selections mondiales competition in Montreal in 1998.