27 April 2011

butternut squash soup

Spring is upon us. Which, in the good ol' pacific northwest, means a day or two of magnificent, summer-like sunshine followed by weeks and weeks of wet cold misery before we get our glorious 6-week summer. We're back to the rain, which means hot soup is totally still fair game for the dinner menu.

Luckily for me, I love making soup. Standing over a hot stove while onions, garlic, herbs and oil sizzle, stirring in delicious ingredients and waiting while the whole thing simmers into a lovely mess is like therapy. Without having to bare my soul to a stranger, and with a bowl of velvety soup as the end product instead of confusion and doubt.

(Therapy is totally great and I recommend it. I also recommend making this soup.)

This really is a simple recipe; but the key to this pot of gold is roasting the squash before you add it to the soup. Roasting intensifies the flavor, reduces the simmering time, and caramelizes the squash ever so slightly. Sage and celery definitely have a say in the flavor as well, and there's a sweetness to this soup which I adore. If you like that sort of ambivalence in your dishes, you could play around with adding a bit of brown sugar; if you like your dinners clearly savory and desserts clearly sweet, I think ginger would be marvelous in here. Or toss in some sweet potato, carrot, or parsnip. The possibilities are endless.

So go make this soup and eat it with crusty buttered bread. Get on it, before it's too hot outside and all you really want to do is grill and eat ice cream. Which, for the sake of our collective sanity, I hope is very soon.

Butternut Squash Soup
{adapted from Real Simple 30 Minute Meals}
make 6 to 8 servings

1 3-pound butternut squash
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tsp kosher salt
black pepper
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 tbsp chopped fresh sage leaves
32 oz chicken or vegetable stock

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Peel and seed the squash. Cut into 1-inch cubes and place them on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tbsp oil, 2 tsp of the salt, and pepper to taste and toss to coat. Spread into a single layer and roast for 15 minutes. Turn and continue to roast until softened, about 15 minutes more, checking every few minutes to make sure nothing is burning.

2. Meanwhile, heat the butter and remaining oil in a stockpot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, celery and sage and cook until softened, about 7 minutes. Do not allow to brown. Add the squash and remaining salt, then pour in stock and enough water to just cover the other ingredients. (Don't add too much liquid or your soup won't be thick enough. You can always add more later if it's too thick.) Bring to a boil, then turn down heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until all ingredients are soft.

3. Remove from heat and allow to cool for ten minutes. Working in batches, transfer soup to a blender and puree until smooth (small batches. Hot soup spraying out of your blender into every nook and cranny of your kitchen is not something I wish upon you). Return to the pot and warm over medium-low heat. Ladle into bowls and serve with toasty bread.

4. To freeze, let the soup cool and ladle it into resealable freezer bags. Store for up to 3 months. To reheat, thaw overnight in the refirgerator or thaw partially in the microwave. Warm in a covered saucepan over medium-low heat for 20 minutes.


Ashley said...

okay, did you read my newest blog post? I am realizing more and more that we are cooking the same things! I love it.... Have a fabulous dinner party tonight!

katie said...

great minds and great friends think alike!! xoxo

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