Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Butternut Squash Soup

 I heart soup.
Food has a way of comforting my soul. A warm bowl of soup on a cold frustrating day slowly slides down every limb, filling me with a calm I cannot find anywhere else.

In the unforgivably frigid winter months in Boston, I lived on vegetable soup. I wanted it every night, with crisp buttery toast or saltines. Of course back then I ate Campbell's vegetable soup and would pick out the "vegetables" which are barely anything but mush and HFCS at that point. Though when you desire soup, nothing else will do.

This past Saturday I felt miserable. Mistake number one was going to the farmer's market before I'd had coffee or eaten. After about 15 minutes of shopping, I started to feel dizzy and hateful of all things that weren't coffee. I scarfed down a breakfast sandwich from a local vender and begrudgingly sipped on some watery suck ass coffee, but still my head ached and my body yelped to stop moving.

Determined to buy new fall vegetables, I spent more time than I should talking and buying from the farmers, finally taking myself home to rest. And by rest I mean clean, recipe plan for 2 hours and grocery shop some more. Finally around four o clock I forced myself to lay down, but only for a bit because I had promised healthy boyfriend a fresh local meal prepared by yours truely.
Hey squash, looking pretty cute. 
After cooking for about 2 hours, I felt a bit better, though still grumpy and nautious. Healthy boyfriend called to inform me he was running late. Frustrated but trying to keep calm, I finished most of the dishes and was thankful I chose soup, because it smelled happy simmering in its pot. An hour after the initail late call, I recieved a text he still had not left. My mood was edging towards passive aggressive land which equals a no fun evening all around. It never feels good to spend a long time cooking and have someone show up late. At the same time, I did not fall in love with healthy boyfriend for his being on time skills. When he arrived he knew I was pissed, the oversized kale chip on my shoulder made that clear.
Luckily within the first bite of this soup I felt better. I could feel the silly frustrations melting away, and all that was left was a rich butternut taste.
You did it again soup. Well done.

This is the first, of what I imagine will be many butternut soup recipes. Different herbs, perhaps an apple or pear, and homemade broth can transform a soup. Butternut squash is another vegetable peaking its large penis shaped form out of baskets on every table at the markets. This squash is available for most of the winter, and the hardest thing to do is slice it. I try to buy smaller squashes, because the 2 pounders require the muscle of healthy boyfriend. Im not saying Im weak, but those squashes don't play.

Most traditional butternut soups add cream or buttermilk at the end, making it even creamier. I did not include this step because I was curious to see how it tasted without the cream. Fan-squash-tastic is how. Im sure the cream would enhance the flavor, and I'll try it one of these days, but for now I'm happy leaving the cream for my coffee. I believe the rice helped add starch and a richness to the soup that usually comes from cream.

Anyone can make this soup, and I encourage everyone to get their own penis shaped vegetable, make at least 3 inappropriate jokes, and then simmer away.

I forgot to use the parmesan, so it is not pictured below. I FORGOT to use cheese, thats how annoyed I was. Anyway Im sure it's delicious, I enjoy licking parmesan straight out of my hand, so no doubt in this soup it's nutty and rich. I did use the kale chips I made the same night, which added a nice green to this orange soup. A good one to keep in mind for halloween.

This recipe brought to you from a few sources. Part Jeanne Lemlin's Vegetarian Pleasures, Part America's best test kitchen family style, and part me!

Butternut Squash Soup
B Soup with Kale "Chips" or Kale-tons?
The Goods: Serves 4-6
2 tablespoons butter
2 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
A good dash of nutmeg
6 heaping cups (about 2 1/2 pounds) butternut squash, peeled and diced
8 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup white basmati rice
1 teaspoon salt
A few good dashes of fresh ground pepper
Freshly grated parmesan

The Deal: 
1. Heat butter in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute until onions are golden, about 10 minutes.

2. Pour in the stock and bring to a boil. Stir in squash, rice, thyme, nutmeg, salt and pepper, and bring soup again to a boil, stirring often. Reduce it to a simmer and cook it about 35-45 minutes, until the squash and rice are very tender.
Must use a big pot.
3. Once ready, puree the soup in batches (careful not to fill up your blender, hot liquid expands) in a blender or food processor. Return pureed soup to pot and keep on low heat until ready to serve. Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese, and additional nutmeg if desired.

This soup will keep for several days, though it made need additional broth when reheated on the stove.

1 comment:

  1. Hi. Your blog makes me hungry. I've enjoyed reading it. Write (and cook) on. :) Pam (from your writing class)