Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Butternut Squash Soup

This is a recipe that we came up with after using cannellini beans for the first time, in a hummus-like dip that is just fantastic (recipe located here). These beans are extremely creamy and we thought it would be an excellent addition to the squash soup I made all last winter. This recipe is great because the carrots and squash make it a very vibrant orange, and the whiteness of the beans only enhances the color.
I usually make an extra-large batch and freeze at least half of it. I serve about a quarter of the remainder (saving any leftovers for the next day) and reserve the rest for a tasty squash lasagna -- the recipe for that will be up tomorrow, so make the soup now and be ready to use the leftovers! I used this same recipe for Thanksgiving and it was a huge hit. Even my youngest cousin, who refuses all vegetables (he says they're "grody") ate his entire portion. And then he asked for more. Sorry, cuz, it's all gone already!

Butternut Squash Soup
This recipe makes enough soup for leftovers and a lasagna, so if you want less, cut all the amounts by half for a more manageable sized soup.
Peel, seed, and cube two large butternut squashes. I recommend you do this first because it's quite an involved task and takes some time. You can also buy pre-cut squash in many grocery stores. I've made it both ways and I must admit that the pre-cut, although more expensive, makes your job a lot easier and takes about an hour off of the total cooking time.
(Equipment Aside: I had a really crummy vegetable peeler for the longest time, but one day by boyfriend surprised me with a brand new "Y" peeler, made by Oxo Good Grips. It was later revealed on America's Test Kitchen that this is the peeler to own. For only five dollars, I'm not struggling with difficult-to-peel vegetables like squash anymore, and I run a zero percent chance of slicing off the tip of my finger with this puppy. It just plain rocks.)
Anyhow, after your squash is ready to go, begin by mincing 1 large white onion and 2 cloves of garlic. Cook the onion on a low heat in the biggest soup pot you own with 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil until it is nearly translucent, then add the garlic. Garlic, by the way, cooks much faster than onions do, and you don't want it to burn. Burned garlic does not taste very good. Add a few dashes of the following to the pan: pepper, salt, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, and cinnamon. Cooking the spices at this stage helps them bloom, leaving a less harsh spice-like flavor to your soup.
Chop and add 4 to 6 stalks of celery and 4 to 6 large carrots to the soup. A rough chop will do, since the soup will ultimately be blended using a processor (if you have one -- did I mention that I don't?) or a blender if necessary. Add the squash and cook over the heat for just a few minutes until the spices are evenly blended onto the vegetables.
Make a "hot spot" in your pan by pushing the squash and other veggies out of the way as much as possible and pour 4 cans of well-rinsed cannellini beans onto the hot spot. Stir them to incorporate into the vegetables.
Add 2 32-ounce cans of chicken broth (I prefer low sodium and low fat, because it really doesn't make a difference when it's made into soup anyhow) to the vegetables. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium. Simmer for about 20 minutes, until the squash is soft and breaks apart when you press it gently with a spoon.
Turn off the heat and let the soup cool a bit, then transfer it into a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. You may have to do this part in stages, depending on the size of your blender. Transfer it back into the soup pot and bring to a low boil. It's ready to serve! You can garnish it with some sour cream if you'd like, but I never do that. Ever. Just eat it alone, because it's marvelous and can really stand up for itself without add-ons.
Another way to make this soup is to substitute the butter and oil with bacon fat. You can chop the bacon -- quite finely -- and then throw it in the food processor or blender when you puree the soup. This adds more depth and flavor to the soup, but also more fat.
Tomorrow, I'll tell you how to make a delicious and vegetarian-friendly (if you don't make the soup with bacon, that is) lasagna from the leftovers. It's really easy, fun, and is pretty healthy for a lasagna.

This post was edited on 2/2/2007 to add a link to the White Bean Dip recipe.

No comments:

D & I design merchandise related to the HUAC hearings. Visit our store: