Friday, September 24, 2010

'Tis The Season For.......Well, Autumn Squash.

Tonight we had Butternut Squash Soup.  It was another Take Five recipe, which leads me to believe I'm getting my months confused.  This one is definitely from the current issue, and the previous post from September, or maybe August.  Gotta get my citations right.  With five relatively cheap ingredients and a little manual labor you can have a lovely, healthy soup in about an hour.  If you're into fall, you will probably really enjoy this with some fresh bread and maybe some mulled cider or gluwein on a chilly night.  I'm a beach girl myself, and I prefer pina coladas and coconut shrimp, but I appreciate the autumn festivities sometimes.  I find now that I have children I pay more attention to what I should be doing according to the current season.  Like I'm supposed to take them to pumpkin patches and give them apple cider, even if I've never done these things and seemed to turn out fairly normal.

Prior to this time last year, my only experience with squash (besides jack-o-lanterns) was summer squash, grilled or sauteed with zucchini, a side dish I hate with the burning fire of a thousand suns.  You will never find a summer squash or zucchini in my house.  It's one of those things you're forced to eat as a child that you vow to never make your kids eat.  Meatloaf, brussels sprouts, and Velveeta are also on my list.  Then about a year ago my husband brought home a butternut squash and I told him he could cook it and that he would he be eating it by himself.  Of course he made me taste it.  And I liked it!  It's more like a pumpkin than a summer squash, so I suddenly had this whole new family of foods I could try now.  Root vegetables are yummy anytime, but especially when it starts to get a little chilly outside, and you feel like taking a few extra steps at dinner to make a warm, comforting soup for everybody.

The five ingredients:
one butternut squash
one medium-sized onion
one baking potato
one quart of chicken broth
a cup of milk

Salt, Pepper, and Olive Oil don't "count" as ingredients in this feature of Rachael Ray's magazine.  First, get to work on that squash.  This was kind of hard, and made me want to invest in a good vegetable peeler.  I have one that's not very good, because my husband prefers to use a knife, but lately he's been out longer and unable to help me with the hard work.  So I took to this butternut squash with my chef's knife and a fair amount of determination.  I had to google how to peel and cut a butternut squash, and there are quite a few YouTube videos on the subject.  Watch one once or twice and you'll be fine.  Cut the ends off the squash and stand it on one end.  Run your knife or vegetable peeler down the side of the squash, peeling the rind off from the flesh.  Work your way around the squash to remove all of the peel.  It's harder than it sounds.  Once it's peeled, cut it in half and remove the seeds and goopy insides with a spoon.  It's just like the inside of a pumpkin, but much smaller.  Then chop it up into pieces that are fairly the same size as each other, then chop the onion and potato to the same size as well.  Put all your veggie pieces in a baking dish and toss them with olive oil to coat.  The best way to do this is with your hands, so put your ring in a safe place and dig in.  Sprinkle the vegetables with salt and pepper and put them in the oven for about an hour.  This is kind of nice, this oven time.  I'm used to fast meals that require me to stand in front of the stove for twenty or thirty minutes at a time, so to pop something in the oven for an hour is a nice change for me.  You can change diapers, give baths, dress for bedtime, all while dinner is cooking away.  Lovely.

Take the veggies out of the oven and transfer to a large soup pot, then add the chicken broth and bring to a boil.  This will happen pretty quickly because your veggies are already really hot.  Then you'll need to turn off the heat and puree the soup.  There are several ways to do this:

1) Use an immersion blender.  I don't happen to have one of these guys (I have a gadget rule), but if you do it will make very quick work of your soup and dirty the fewest number of dishes.  Stick the blender right in there and turn it on.  Magic.
2) Use a conventional blender, like you make smoothies in.  This is what I did.  You may have to work in two batches and dirty a few bowls in the process, but it will get the job done.
3)  You could mash the veggies before you put them in the pot with the broth.  It should work, but I haven't tried it.  This would be a good option for you if you don't have a blender of any kind.

Do not put the soup in your KitchenAid stand mixer and attempt to puree it that way.  It will not work, even though it mashes potatoes beautifully, and it will get soup everywhere.  Don't ask me how I know this.

Once the soup is pureed, add the milk.  If it cooled down a lot, heat it back up on the stove and serve as you so choose.  You could serve some bread with it, or some grilled chicken alongside, or just make it a meal like we did.  It's a rich, thick, creamy soup with a lot of flavor, and it made a surprisingly large volume for only having three vegetables in it.  Here it is with a dollop of sour cream and some parsley:

My husband preferred it without the sour cream.  My daughter was melting down and didn't eat any dinner this evening, and when the baby tried it she spit it out.  But Mommy and Daddy thought it was yummy!

You could add carrots to this, or radishes, turnips, celery, really any root vegetable.  Butternut squash is kind of sweet, and so are onions and carrots when they're cooked, so I think kids could get into eating their veggies this way.  I know Audrey would have eaten it had she been herself.  Butternut squash has lots of Vitamin A and Fiber in it too, or so the YouTube lady says.

I chose this to make this evening because it could be done mostly ahead of time, and I had my Mom's Book Club this evening (where I had an AH. MAY. ZING. bruschetta that I will be acquiring the recipe to very shortly).  We read Lift by Kelly Corrigan.  It's a letter to her children about the ways she loves them, and how she is now as a person so they will remember her that way.  Some of the ladies said it inspired them to write to their children, too, but it didn't affect me that way.  I said, well....I started a's more about me than anything I would try to write about me, to them.  So maybe it subconsciously inspired me, because they did certainly coincide with each other.  Anyway, I didn't care for the book and I'm excited to read about zombies for next month.

I'm loving the compliments I'm receiving about the blog, though, and the recipes people are now sharing with me!!

Happy squashing :)

1 comment:

  1. I'm bookmarking this to try! I absolutely LOVE butternut squash soup :) Also, I saw a butternut squash pasta sauce at the store the other day, it was a little steep ($8!!) but sounded like a fabulous idea so I'm going to try making it myself!