Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Soup #6 / Butternut Squash Soup

You will need:
1 butternut squash (about 3 lbs)
2 tbs unsalted butter
1 tbsp oil
1 yellow onion finely chopped
6 cups of chicken stock or vegetable broth
1-2 large anjou or bartlett pears (depending on how much you want to add)
4 tsp light brown sugar
1/2 cup of half and half
salt and pepper for taste

How to make it:
First you have to cut the squash, and this was seriously the hardest part. I had to call my mom for a tutorial and look it up on you tube because it was not easy. One you tube video had the audacity to say "butternut squash is the easiest of the winter squashes to peel and slice," BOO.  So once you've peeled the hard outer part off, cut it in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds. Then cut each of those halves across and into slices.

In a dutch oven or a soup pan, melt 1 tbsp of butter with the oil on medium heat. Add the finely chopped onion (I had to use the food processor to avoid mega waterworks) and saute until the onion is soft and starting to brown. Add the squash slices and the broth and raise the heat to high so the soup boils. After you've reached your boiling point, reduced the heat and allow to simmer until the squash is tender. This will take about 20-30 minutes.

This recipe calls for roasted pears to serve inside the soup and use for garnish on top. While your soup is simmering, preheat your oven to 500 degrees. Melt 1 tbsp of butter. Peel the pears and cut them in slices, lengthwise, cutting out the seeds and tough centers.  In a bowl, stir together the melted butter and 2 tsp of brown sugar. Add the pear slices and coat them with sugary goodness. Spread the slices out on a foil covered baking sheet and roast in the oven until the bottoms start to turn brown. Turn the slices and roast a little longer on the other side. This process should only take about 7-10 minutes at the most per side - set an alarm, it's easy to forget them!  When they are finished, take about half of the slices and dice them up and place a small amount at the bottom of each serving bowl. Save the remaining slices to garnish on top of the soup.

Now back to the soup: Once your squash is nice and soft it's time to puree. If you have an immersion blender, remove the soup from the heat and slowly begin to blend the soup to desired consistency. You can also transfer the soup in batches to your blender if that works best.  Once the soup is smooth, you'll want to add the half and half. If the soup is hot, temper the half and half by adding small amounts of soup to a bowl with the half and half in it, while stirring so the milk doesn't curdle. Then add the soup and half and half mixture to the soup and stir. If you'd like it to be a little thicker you can ad a dash of flour while stirring. Add the remaining 2 tsp of brown sugar to taste, and add a dash of salt or pepper as you'd like. Place the soup on medium low heat again until it's the desired temperature.

Serve the soup in bowls with pears on the bottom and garnish them with the prettier slices on top - ENJOY!

The Verdict: This soup was a success in the end. The first day we had it I have to say I was a little disappointed. I had added a little too much salt and it just didn't taste all that squashy. E really liked it from the beginning, though he agreed with me about the salt.  I definitely liked the taste that pears added to the soup, giving it a sweet-tart flavor. When we had this soup in the few days after, I definitely enjoyed it. The flavors sat and really flourished. By day three it was on my list as one of my favorite soups so far and I was sad that we finished it.

Thing's we'd change: The biggest was that I would add salt to taste, like I mentioned in this recipe. The recipe I followed gave a specific amount and without thinking I did just that, and it did come out a bit too salty.  It was a delicious soup, so simple and tasty. I would like to try it with some other spices. I've heard nutmeg and cinnamon add good flavor to the squash.  I'd also maybe try with a little less onion, and see if that adds a bit more of a squash-y flavor to the soup.

This soup paired really well as a side with pork chops, but on days 2 and three we enjoyed it on it's own in a mug as a light lunch!