Saturday, October 3, 2009

Butternut Squash Soup

It's that time of year now where I start making a lot of soups, many of them featuring various winter squash. My squash experiments, most of which tend to be vegetarian, are bravely tolerated by the Darling Devoted Husband, a bona fide "I'll take some bacon with my pork chop, hold the green beans" carnivore. He professes to like this soup, however, though like most pureed soups it's not very substantial-feeling and does best accompanied by or as an accompaniment to something you can chew.

The recipe is from Mark Bittman's How To Cook Everything.

Heat three tablespoons butter in a deep saucepan on medium. When it melts, add 1 pound butternut (or other winter) squash, cut into 1-2 inch cubes; 1 pound crisp tart apples (such as Granny Smith), peeled, cored, and roughly chopped; and 1 large onion, roughly chopped:

Cook, stirring, until the onion softens, 5-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, I cooked up 4 cups of stock (because bouillon and broth base are cheaper than canned stock, I have one of those on hand in chicken and one in beef. The problem of course is that I have to remember to boil up the appropriate amount of water instead of just tossing in a can of liquid. Worth it, though):

I think I used chicken, but you can use beef or vegetable; use the latter and the soup's vegetarian.

Once the onion was softened and the broth was ready, I added the stock, 1/2 cup dry white wine (I may have tossed in cooking wine, in which case I didn't season with salt earlier, or sherry; I don't remember), and 1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon (or 1 tsp. fresh):

Turn the meat to medium-high and bring to a boil:


Turn the heat down to low, partially cover:


and cook for about 30 minutes or until squash is very soft. Cool slightly, then puree. I used my handy dandy immersion blender, but you could also pour it into a blender or use a food mill (honestly this looks very tedious. I suppose there is a point to food mills and maybe some time when you would want them and not anything else (a power outage, perhaps?), but I am just saying that I love my immersion blender. Maybe the food mill rices things. That would be handy, I guess). Once it's nice and smooth:


you can either refrigerate, covered, for up to 2 days (reheat before proceeding) or cook gently over medium-low heat until heated through; do not boil. Stir in 1 cup heavy or light cream:


until well blended and cook, stirring, until hot, about 1 minute. Ta-da! Butternut squash soup:


It really makes a lot, so unless you're having a party, I suggest freezing some of it before you add the cream and just keeping what you're likely to eat within a week out--adjust the amount of cream used as necessary.

On this occasion, I also cooked up some chicken breasts in a pan with the extra diced apple and some more onion:

 It made a very tasty dinner, and the soup served as a good lunch for several days, accompanied by salad and/or chips or whatever I could rustle up for crunch. The soup's a great fall standby: not too difficult or time-consuming but warming and full of fall flavor: apples, squash, and cream. Yum!

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