Thursday, October 27, 2011

Butternut Squash & Carrot Soup

Here I am with another soup recipe! Yesterday (Wednesday, my "soup day") I decided to step a bit outside of my comfort zone and my usual routine.

I almost strictly adhere to my crock-pot on Wednesdays, as I don't usually have much time to attend to the kitchen and I need something that can keep for awhile if we get detained at our Kid's Club, Awana (which we don't mind and which usually happens! :). But, after musing on it for awhile, the adventure of trying a squash soup became appealing to me. I have never tried any sort of squash soup before, but last fall and winter, my foray into the world of acorn, spaghetti, and butternut squash (and of course, pumpkin!) convinced me that my former preconceived ideas about squash were likely all wrong. Now I can add squash soup to that list of things I was wrong about! Usually, I hate to be wrong. But when being wrong comes in such a delightful package as a warm, tasty, spicy-sweet (not to mention, healthy!) soup, I can much more cheerfully accept it!
This soup was a bit more work than most soups I make, but once in awhile it would be well worth the effort. Butternut squash is a very versatile squash, being tasty roasted, pureed, grilled, or even microwaved, if you're short on time. It is rather sweet and nutty, very similar in flavor to pumpkin.

Orange seems to be the color of the day
I think if you cooked and mashed it, it could probably be substituted for pumpkin in any recipe. It is also extremely healthy! It is an excellent source of both vitamins A and E, as well as fiber, even making the list of the 10 best foods as compiled by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (right up there with salmon and sweet potatoes)! This delicious, creamy soup also weighs in at a mere 150 calories or less per serving!
The first step is to slice the squash in half and remove the seeds and stringy stuff inside.

Hang onto those valuable little seeds!
But wait! Don't throw those seeds away! Separate them from the strings and wash and dry them to use later. Next you peel the squash, which I accomplished with my vegetable peeler, although I'm not sure it was the best method. After peeling, I diced it into about 1 in. cubes. The recipe called for 3 cups and my squash was about a medium size, so I only ended up needing half of it (which actually amounted to almost 4 cups, but I put the extra in anyway). I'm still dreaming about what to do with the other half. After cubing the squash, as well as slicing up carrots and dicing some sweet onion, I put it all in a big saucepan and sauteed it in butter for about 10 min.

Once the onions were transparent and soft, I added the chicken broth and simmered until everything was tender. After this step, and letting it slightly cool, the recipe called for pureeing everything in batches in a blender. But if you posses the awesome little tool called an immersion blender, I highly recommend you use it here. It is so easy and works like a dream! I use mine quite often- they work very well for blending soups and sauces, as well as dressings and gravy. I simply put the whole pot in the sink (to avoid splatter) and blended everything until almost completely smooth.

See how easy that is? Christmas is coming...

Once smooth and creamy, I stirred in nutmeg, pepper and half and half. Then came the taste test. Mmmm. I couldn't stop dipping my spoon into that beautiful golden-orange soup! It was heavenly! A perfect marriage of sweetness and spice, all wrapped up in a creamy, smooth goodness that slides so warmly down your throat. Tastes (and looks!) like Autumn in a bowl.

I made our soup ahead of time and found it worked well to refrigerate it, then warm it up on low in the crock-pot for 2-3 hours. We had it as a main dish, but if you don't want to go vegetarian (or almost vegetarian, due to the chicken broth) it would also work well as a side or starter to a meatier entree. I served it with an olive and cheese bread from the Brown Eyed Baker's blog.

The bread was beautiful and very tasty, but a little bit too eggy and tasted a little too much like olive oil for my preference. Might be better toasted, or with melted butter or another oil subbed for the olive oil. I love olive oil, but it was just a bit too overpowering for me.

Oh, remember those seeds you saved? Once they are dry, put them on a baking sheet and toast them at 375 for 10-15 minutes (watch closely so they don't burn!) and you have a perfect topping for your soup- no waste here!

Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup
(printable version)
from the Better Homes & Gardens Cook Book
serves 4 as a main dish, 6 as a side

3-4 cups peeled, diced butternut squash
2 cups thinly sliced carrot
3/4 cup thinly sliced leek or chopped onion
1 TB butter
2 (14 oz.) cans chicken broth
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 cup half and half
toasted squash or pumpkin seeds for garnish

In a large saucepan, cook squash, carrot and onion in hot butter over medium heat for 8 min., stirring occasionally. Add broth. Bring to boiling; reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 25-35 min, or until tender. Cool slightly.
Place one-third of the mixture in blender and process until nearly smooth. Repeat with remaining (or here is where you can simply employ your handy-dandy immersion blender!). Return all to saucepan. Add pepper and nutmeg, bring just to boiling. Add half and half; heat through. Garnish each serving with seeds if desired.

1 comment:

  1. Mmm, That looks really good. I think I will have to try this! And an immersion, blender, I am without one of those :)


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