Kabocha Squash Soup with Garlic Challah Croutons

  

Sukkot kabocha soup

Since Sukkot menus are all about the autumn harvest, what could be more festive than starting off the meal with a comforting bowl of pumpkin soup? When I was growing up, one of my favorite recipes was my grandmother’s stewed Kabocha: a Japanese variety of pumpkin or squash. It wasn’t until I went off to college that I tried pumpkin for the first time in a dish, and I’ve always felt the flavor of Kabocha is far superior to the pumpkins we eat here in the U.S. It is sweeter and heartier than that of a regular pumpkin, and it has a fluffy texture similar to that of a potato, which makes it perfect for a purĂ©ed soup. The color is a deeper orange, making it more vibrant and festive, as well!

If you’re having a sit-down meal, you can serve it in bowls as a starter. If you’re throwing a casual happy hour under the sukkah like I am, you can keep it warm in a big thermos pot and pour individual servings in little paper cups with the garlic challah croutons, cream and chives sprinkled over the top. This is the time of year when the air is starting to get a bit crisper, so this soup is a great way to warm up under the sukkah. If you’re serving meat later and would like to keep things kosher, I recommend omitting the milk and cream and instead finishing the soup with a dollop of homemade cashew cream under the croutons, which your guests can stir in.

Kabocha Squash Soup with Garlic Challah Croutons
Serves 8

Kabocha

Wondering what Kabocha squash looks like so you can pick one up?

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp. curry powder
  • 3-pound Kabocha squash
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

 

Toppings:

  • 1 cup unsweetened whipped cream (I just hand-whip some of the leftover heavy whipping cream) or creme fraiche
  • Garlic challah croutons (recipe below)
  • Chopped chives

 

squash

Soup Instructions:

1.  Slice Kabocha in half and spoon out the seeds. Cut each half into three wedges. Turn each wedge onto the flat side and remove the green skin. Cut each wedge crosswise into four even squares (see image for what your Kabocha should look like at this point).

2.  Melt butter in a dutch oven or pot, over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, slide in the sliced onion, curry powder and a sprinkling of salt. Stir the onion continuously for 10 minutes, or until caramelized. Slide Kabocha cubes into the pot, along with another sprinkling of salt and stir for five minutes. Add the chicken broth and bring everything to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and cover the pot for 10 minutes.

3.  Using a fork, pierce Kabocha to check for doneness. It should be soft enough to pierce without resistance, but not so soft that it falls apart. If it’s not quite soft enough, stir, cover and cook for another five minutes.

4.  When Kabocha is cooked through, blend in batches in a blender or use an immersion blender (one of my favorite kitchen tools!) until completely smooth.

5.  Stir in milk, then heavy whipping cream. Make sure to keep the heat very low and be careful to not let the soup boil at this point.

6.  Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste. Top with a dollop of the whipped cream, challah croutons and chives.

soup for Sukkot


This is a recipe I came up with when, one Saturday morning, I decided I could not eat any more challah French toast!

Challah Croutons

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound day-old challah
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 microplane-grated garlic clove
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

 

1.  Preheat the oven to 375ºF.

2.  Grate garlic clove into olive oil, stir in herbs and salt. Be very careful to only include very small, microplane-d pieces of garlic. Larger pieces will get burnt and become bitter.

3.  Cut challah into roughly 3/4″ x 3/4″ cubes. I recommend using a regular knife for a cleaner cut (as opposed to a serrated knife).

4.  Place cubed challah onto a baking sheet and pour oil mixture over challah and mix well with your hands.

5.  Spread challah out on baking sheet so it’s just one layer and the challah is not (or just barely) touching.

6.  Bake for five minutes and check on it. It should be a nice and toasty golden color. If it’s not browning quite yet, bake for another 5 minutes and check on it again. It took me about 12 minutes to achieve this in my oven.

Blueberry and Apple Borekas with Honey Tahini

  

Blueberry and Apple Borekas

It’s probably a bit of a stretch to call these borekas because I originally introduced them to my readers as one of our favorite savory Turkish bites. And it’s not every day you think of sweet borekas. Truth be told, I am a savory lover at heart. But this once city girl, who now lives within minutes of farmland—driving by horses, cows, dairy farms and wild apple trees—counts her blessings and happily picks blueberries at a nearby farm.

Whether we’ll call them borekas or not, these little pastries are fast, easy and perfectly sweet for the Jewish New Year. And as a perfect finger food for a Yom Kippur break fast, I made blueberry and apple borekas with a sweet tahini honey glaze.

Another usual savory bite, tahini is an ingredient I use for just about everything: dressings, dips and spreads, and naturally don’t see it used as a sweet ingredient. Tahini is mixed with a bit of honey and warm water and with a bit of elbow grease, turns into a beautiful pour-able consistency.

Wishing you a wonderful and sweet New Year and an easy fast! L’shana Tovah!

Blueberry and Apple Borekas with Honey Tahini
Yields 18 borekas

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of chopped and peeled apples, cut into about 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 4 Tbsp. sugar + more sugar for sprinkling on top
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract/paste or 1 vanilla bean, scraped
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced and zested
  • 1 package (2 sheets) puff pastry, thawed
  • Flour for dusting on surface
  • 1 egg + water for egg wash

 

Tahini Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 1/4-1/2 cup warm water

 

Directions:

1. First make the filling. In a bowl, add together the cubed apples, blueberries, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and lemon zest and juice. Toss everything together and allow to sit while you prepare the puff pastry.

2. Unfold puff pastry on a floured surface and roll out a bit so the pastry is a bit thinner.

3. Then cut pastry sheet into nine even squares (18 total for both sheets) and add about a tablespoon of filling to each square.

4. Whisk together the egg and water in a small bowl and brush the edges of each square with the egg wash and then folding the dough together making a little pouch. Use your fingers or a fork to crimp the edges and it’s OK if you stretch the dough a bit, the fruit will shrink as it bakes.

5. Brush more egg wash on top of the folded pastry and sprinkle with more sugar. Use a knife to cut little skits on the top.

6. Place borekas on lined baking sheet and bake at 325° for 20-25 minutes, or until the filling begins to ooze out and the pastry is golden brown.

7. Once done, remove from the oven and allow to cool a bit while you make tahini glaze.

8. To make the tahini glaze, in a bowl add the tahini and honey and 1/4 cup warm water. Use a fork or whisk to whisk everything together until it is smooth and pour-able. As it sits, it will get firmer so you can add a bit more warm water and mix until desired consistency.

Pumpkin Spice Monkey Bread with Applesauce Glaze

  

Breakfast is one of my favorite meals because every dish has a comfort food vibe. For Yom Kippur, I love preparing a “break fast” meal with some family favorites like noodle kugel and bagels and lox. We make dishes that are easy to digest and gentle on the stomach after a day of fasting. I also like to add in something new every year. Pumpkin spice craze is here to stay so I decided to take a classic monkey bread, which is also known as Hungarian coffee cake, and pumpkin spice it up! If you have any Hungarian roots in your family, this is a great time to add your heritage to the celebration of the Jewish New Year. This recipe uses pre-made biscuit dough for ease and speed, but you can also use your own scratch recipe.

Pumpkin Spice Monkey Bread with Apple Sauce Glaze

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick of butter, plus extra to grease the pan
  • 1/2 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp. pumpkin spice
  • 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 package of pre-made flaky biscuit dough (the ones that come in a cardboard tube)
  • 2 apples
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

 

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a small loaf pan or 6-inch square baking dish.

2. Mix the sugar, cinnamon and pumpkin spice.

3. Melt the stick of butter and add in the maple syrup.

4. Take each pre-made biscuit dough and cut it into two pieces. Roll the pieces one at a time in the butter and then the pumpkin spice sugar mixture.

5. Place each ball into the baking dish until you have one layer of sugar and pumpkin spice coated balls of dough. If using a small loaf pan, you will have two layers of dough balls and will cook for longer.

6. Bake for 40-50 minutes until the dough has risen and is a deep golden brown.

7. While the pumpkin spice monkey bread is baking, peel and grate both apples. Cook the apples in a covered saucepan until soft and fragrant.

8. Pour the apple sauce into a bowl and add a squeeze of lemon juice. Stir in 1 cup of powdered sugar.
9. Serve the monkey bread warm with the apple sauce glaze on the side.