Caring For The Caregivers
While My Beloved's first wife is in hospital, she is being offered in her weakened state perhaps the worst food the Bay area has to offer - hospital food. Second only to airplane food, it's terrible. Why would anyone who is ill be offered highly salted or sugared food out of cans? It makes no sense. So, her sister, her daughters, her niece, her neighbors, her friends and I are working to keep her supplied with real food, food that will actually enhance the healing process until she's sprung from that place.
To wit, roasted kabocha squash and d'Anjou pear soup that I made to deliver over to the caregivers. They are spending all day, every day at the hospital so they are exposed to crappy food, too. I had a couple of the cutest little organic kabocha squashes you've ever seen rolling around on my counter, so I put them to good use. In fact, all the ingredients I used were organic - doesn't that make sense for helping someone to heal?
Not all the soup I made fit into the container I was using so I poured the extra into a bowl and tasted it myself. Mellow as sunshine with a little herbal twist and a hint of sweetness from the onion and pears, the soup had texture thanks to the slight graininess of the pears. No wonder soup is the traditional food for invalids - it goes down easily, it's packed with vitamins and it is so pretty to even a jaded eye. Lovely. Life-giving. Delicious. To your health!
Caregivers Kabocha Soup
1 Tablespoon butter or olive oil
2 small or 1 medium kabocha squash, seeded, halved and roasted cut side down at 350 degrees on an oiled pan until easily pierced with a knife, about 20 minutes.
1 large onion, chopped
Fresh thyme, leaves stripped from the woody stems
2 d'Anjou pears, peeled and cored
16 ounces chicken stock
Roast squash in a 350 degree oven for about half an hour, until a sharp knife inserts easily into the squash. Set aside to cool. Meanwhile, in a large pot, melt the butter and soften the onions with the thyme leaves. When the squash has cooled enough to handle, scoop out the squash flesh with a spoon and add it to the pot with the pears and the chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 30-45 minutes.
Let cool, then purée in a blender. When reheating, do so slowly in a heavy bottomed pan, or in the microwave. Top with crême fraiche or chopped chives. You might want to add salt and pepper, too, as I used none.