Greetings, dear readers!
I know we're all coming down from the overindulgence of last week and craving simple, lean foods. For my family's big celebration, I made this soup by Michael Chiarello of the Food Network. It is an intricate, full flavored soup which requires many complex steps. It was good. It had lots of interesting flavors; sour, sweet, salty, savory, all of the above. It had fennel, balsamic vinegar, and molasses. It took me a long time and it was worth the work since the family ate the entire batch.
But you know what? A week earlier I'd thrown together a simple squash soup with stuff I had on hand in about 20 minutes and I have to say, I liked my version better. (Sorry Chiarello)
I thought I was crazy when I took the first bite of the fancy schmancy soup and thought, "I wish I were eating THAT soup again". That is, until my darling father echoed the desire for simpler flavors. His support combined with the amazing workload the fancy one requires has sealed the deal. This is MY butternut squash soup, and it's awesome.
Simple Squash Soup
Cook 1 medium butternut squash (approximately three pounds, but this is soup. It doesn't really matter.)
Any squash with a smooth texture will do.
I like to steam my squash, so I halve it (a bread knife is surprisingly helpful for this), scoop out the seeds, pierce the skin with a fork, and cook it for about an hour in the oven on a sheet pan with about an inch of water. When in doubt, roast at 350.
(If you aren't interested in wrestling a huge squash, precooked frozen squash is a perfectly fine substitute.)
Once a knife slides in easily, let the squash cool and then scrape up with flesh with a fork. I find it much easier to remove the flesh from each half then to peel and chop the squash. They are slippery, and heavy, which is annoying at best, and dangerous at worst.
Your lovely squash should look like this.
I have yet to fully understand the connection between color and nutrition, but it's clear that certain shades just beg to be eaten. This orange is one for me.
Next, throw the soup basics into a pot.
1 yellow onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
In these shots I am using green onion. Because that's what I had. Remember how I just threw this together? It worked fine.
Sweat (not sautee. We're not looking for browing here, just softening. Sweating is more like steaming or boiling than it is like sauteeing.) the holy trinity
until it's very soft, but doesn't have any color.
Next, add two cups of chicken stock. (I'm lazy and don't like dealing with whole animals much, so I use Better Than Bouillon)
Then, toss in the squash, and a little cream. (Ok, I used about 1/2 a cup, but you can use less/more as you like. Milk would be fine, too, for you fat-phobes out there)
Salt and pepper and sage to taste.
If you like a lot of texture in your soup, go for it as is.
After this photo, I put the soup in a blender in small batches. This extra step will give you a luxurious, uniform smoothness that I really love.
It's great with something crunchy and salty. Crackers are perfecto
That's all for now.
Next time, GOAT CHEESE!!