A Different Kind of Cheese Soup
Last year, excellent gardener and friend KB gave us a splendid Long Island Cheese squash from her London Ferrill Community Garden plot. It looked, as many have commented, like a terracotta pumpkin, so hard and sturdy I waited a few months too long to eat it, and found it a bit dried out when I finally took a big knife to it.
We were lucky, and got a second chance. When the 2013 Long Island Cheese arrived, looking even more like terracotta royalty, I made a mental note to eat it within two weeks.
One night, Long Island Cheese became dinner, based on what we had. This no-recipe soup began with what I could find in the kitchen: squash (ever so much like pumpkin), dried stems of Bracken County shiitake mushrooms, dried Henkle tomatoes, wonderful baby ginger from Au Naturel Farm (thank you, AW!), Campsie garlic, homemade chicken broth, courtesy of Elmwood Stock Farm's fine organic, pastured chicken backs.
I topped my bowl with a heap of crispy sautéed Campsie chard, and yes, it was scrumptious.
If we had had Kentucky salt, the whole, wholesome soup would have been Kentucky-sourced. And, incidentally, Paleo/Primal/PHD diet friendly. With veggie broth instead of the chicken stock, it could suit vegetarians and vegans. Leftover soup, with a little bit of decidedly non-Kentucky coconut milk added, made wonderful lunches for several days.
Why the "Long Island Cheese" name for a gorgeous squash? Some say the mature squash looks like a round of cheese. And Long Island? I learned first hand this summer what others have long known: this stretch of land struts a gazillion appealing you-picks, farms and farm stands: it's produce heaven.
Thank goodness (and KB)—Long Island Cheese apparently likes Kentucky's food-growing paradise, too. This is good news for people who favor homegrown pumpkin for pies, soups, and decadent pumpkin dip: Long Island Cheese, a member of the Cucurbita moschata species, trumps pumpkin (usually Cucurbita pepo) for color, flavor, and texture. Says those who know.
Elmwood Stock Farm sponsors Savoring Kentucky.