Welcome to John Kemp’s Kitchen!
Hey there, readers of Pro Tem! My name is John and my column is one of the newest additions to the newspaper. It will focus on all things food, such as learning how to cook great recipes as well as tips to help you bring out your inner chef.
I started in the kitchen when I was about four years old. My dad would often wake up to the smell of my pancake creations (I couldn’t read the recipe yet) and freshly whipped cream. From there, I’ve continued developing my culinary skills (as well as literary skills), diving head-first into the world of food. I attended Liaison College for multiple summers where I was introduced to the commercial kitchen atmosphere and where I was able to learn “tricks of the trade” from trained chefs and line cooks. Today, I’m an avid home cook, creating dishes for friends and family to enjoy.
Enough about me. Let’s dive into this issue’s topic: Autumn. What a great time of year to start off with! This harvest season is bountiful with the fruits of the earth which are paired beautifully with warm, “cozy” flavours like allspice, cinnamon, and nutmeg, only to name a few. The recipe I’m featuring this issue is one that I made for a soirée I recently hosted. It's a squash soup that incorporates both the fall harvest and its complementary spices.
Autumn Squash Soup
Cost: about $1.86 per serving
1 acorn squash (pulp and seeds removed)
2 large sweet potatoes
2 tbsp. butter
2 yellow onions, finely diced
1 ½ tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock
½ c. heavy cream (35%)
3 tbsp. pure maple syrup
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 lb. frozen puff pastry, thawed but cold
1 tbsp. milk
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Fill a baking dish with about a ½” of water. Cut the sweet potatoes in half and place, cut side down, in the dish. Bake for about 30 minutes.
Place the halves of the squash, cut side down, alongside the potatoes. Bake for another 40-50 minutes, or until a small knife can easily penetrate the squash and potatoes.
Remove from oven and remove the squash and potatoes from the dish. Allow to cool until cool enough to handle. When ready, scoop out the flesh into a bowl.
In a large pot, melt the butter. Add the onions and sauté just until soft. Add the squash, sweet potato, ginger, cinnamon, and stock. Bring to a boil in order to bring together the flavours. Do not overcook as the taste of the spices will weaken.
In a blender or food processor, purée the contents of the pot until smooth. You can also use an immersion blender (emulsifier). Pour into a clean pot. Whisk in the cream and maple syrup. If the soup is too thin, you may let it boil, uncovered, to let some water escape, but be sure to stir occasionally. If it is too thick, add more stock or water.
Season with salt and pepper to taste and let cool to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 425°F. On a lightly floured work surface, roll the puff pastry to about 1/8” thickness. Using one of the bowls prepared for serving, cut enough pastry to cover the top of the bowl and drape slightly over the edges (keep in mind that the pastry will shrink in the oven, so compensate accordingly).
Brush the edges of the bowls with a mixture of the egg and milk (egg wash). Fill each bowl with soup and cover with a round of the puff pastry. Brush tops with egg wash and bake for about 25 minutes or until dark golden brown. Serve and enjoy!