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Monday, January 26, 2009

butternut squash soup

butternut squash 1

I hope it doesn't do injustice to this recipe to start a post with another apology, but I feel it's due. Sorry for 2 soup posts in a row. But this one is so good you won't mind, I promise.

Butternut squash soup is one of those things, like risotto; you order it in a restaurant and love it, but assume it's too complicated to make at home. But, like most vegetable-cream soups, it's simply a matter of vegetables cooked in broth until tender, blended, with some cream stirred in at the end. This recipe, another one adapted from The New England Soup Factory cookbook (working my way through one page at a time), is stunning. It adds apple and parsnip to the butternut base, and it's served with a little bit of gorgonzola cheese to counter the sweetness.

Grocery list: 4 T butter, 2 garlic cloves, 1 large onion, 2 apples, 3 carrots, 2 parsnips, 1-2 stalks celery, 1 2-pound butternut squash, 8 cups chicken stock (preferably homemade, covered before here), 1 T worcestershire sauce, 3 T brown sugar, 1.5 c cream (I used half-and-half and it was perfect and still plenty guilty enough), gorgonzola cheese for garnish.

apple celery onion carrot butternut parsnip

Start by prepping all the vegetables: peel, remove seeds if applicable, dice.

chopped vegetables for soup

Melt the butter in a large soup pot over medium high heat, and add all the vegetables. Saute for 10 minutes, then add the chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium so it's just simmering, and cook until the vegetables are soft (about 35 minutes more).

brown sugar cream and worcestershire for soup

Turn off the heat, and stir in the worcestershire and the brown sugar. Season the soup with salt and pepper.

immersion blender for squash

Like all cream soups, you want to blend it *before* you add the cream, which is last. So, either with an immersion blender, or by moving batches of the soup to a blender (carefully - and only fill up the blender half way with each batch, so you don't splatter boiling hot soup all over yourself - the things I learned before having a stick blender).

adding cream to cooked squash

Finally, return the soup to the pot if you've used a blender, and stir in the cream. You might need to turn the soup back on low heat, depending on how hot you like your soup.

butternut squash 2

To serve, place a spoonful or two of gorgonzola cheese crumbles in the bottom of a bowl, and spoon the soup on top. The book actually calls for an even more impressive garnish (crispy prosciutto and sauteed apple slices), but I skipped it.

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