Saturday, February 9, 2013

Butternut Squash Soup

I am probably one of the few people who likes winter. Yes, it's cold but that's just the way of life. Winter comes with the holidays and cold nights and snow which also means it comes with snuggly sweaters, fires, hot cocoa and soups. I like the classic soupy things like chili, clam chowder and chicken noodle but I also love tomato and butternut squash soup. Especially since you can dip grilled cheese in them.

See, spices just on top.
As you may remember, the last time I attempted butternut squash soup, it went swimmingly terrible. But I welcome a challenge and I also welcomed an immersion blender to my kitchen this winter. Similar to the Cherry Scones, I got this recipe out of a magazine. And I didn't hold back, I bought the chives as a garnish and used maple syrup. I did substitute sunflower seeds for the pumpkin seeds though. I already had them in my cupboard and I'm trying to focus on using what I got. Okay, I did take several liberties. Like I didn't garnish with sauteed apples (out of laziness, I did have the apples) and I decided to add the spices straight to the mix, having a separate sachet sounded to fancy. And I modified the spices on whim. Again, just trying to use up what I got.

Double trouble!
 I also remembered to half this recipe, hurray me! I thought this meant everything would fit in the pots I have. That was incorrect. But again, realized this before I dumped everything into one pot so I divided it into two. Look at me, learning from my mistakes. What a grown up.

Bubble my pretties
As this went along, I realized I wasn't keeping to the half amounts. But what am I going to do with a quarter of a chopped onion? Or five baby carrots? It just seemed right to keep them all together. Plus, people keep telling me that the big difference between cooking and baking is with cooking, you can make stuff up and baking is more of a science.

The end of the celery stalk, it looks like a rose. Poetic.
The moment of truth: blending. This still seems like a disaster in the making. I'm going to move a very full pot of stuff and it's not going to go everywhere? Yeah, okay. I'm pretty sure that's the punchline of 143 movies (exact number). So I cautiously blended the contents with a pot lid as a shield (side note: I only have one pot lid so was switching it back and forth between the two pots when cooking. Totally works.). Pot number 1: great success, no mess! Confidence! Pot number 2: not over confident from pot 1 because that would definitely result in mess (Murphy's Law is actively followed in my life). And despite being careful, it did spill over a little bit but not nearly to the same degree as my first attempt. Only a pot holder was sacrificed in this process.

Take that butternut squash soup! You are officially conquered. Now I can take on the world of cooking more complex things or that stack of mail or just curl up and relax with a hot bowl of soup. Procrastinators unite! Tomorrow....
So. Delicious.

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 10 cups diced winter squash
  • 1 cup diced carrot
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 2 cups diced onion
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. black peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp. star anise pieces
  • 2 small cinnamon sticks
  • 6 cups low sodium vegetable broth or water
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • salt and pepper
  • maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup sauteed diced apples
  • 1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tsp. chives
  1. Heat oil in a large pot. Add vegetables, season with salt and cook until soft. Put spices in a sachet or cheesecloth. Add to vegetables and add broth. Bring to a boil and then simmer (covered) until tender.
  2.  Take pot off heat. Remove spice sachet. Whisk in the milk and puree in batches until smooth. 
  3. Add salt, pepper and syrup to taste. Garnish with apples, chives and pumpkin seeds.

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