Saturday, 9 October 2010

Butternut Squash Soup

For a few days, there were two lovely butternut squash sitting on the table just begging to be turned into something delicious. Considering the fall weather, I figured a nice thick, creamy soup would be the best choice.

I started by cutting each one in half, generously rubbing some butter and dusting a bit of ground cloves on each piece. I covered each piece in tin foil and put them in a baking pan with a bit of water on the bottom. After about an hour in the oven at 350 degrees I had soft, falling apart squash that was nice and moist.

While that was cooling, I chopped a ton of vegetables. Two carrots, two onions, three or so stalks of celery, four red potatoes (although maybe only three would have been enough) and about a handful of garlic cloves (I really like garlic). I sauteed those up with some butter, salt and ground pepper in the cast iron pan until they started to soften. I wish I had had a bigger pan...that was a lot of vegetables! Cooking them took longer than it should have and making sure everything was evenly cooked without tossing veggie pieces all over the stovetop was annoying.

I ended up peeling the skin off of the squash and then chopping it up. It was so softened that when I tried to scope the meaty bits out of the skin it just kept falling apart.

All the sauteed veggies and the oven roasted squash went into a big pot with about 7 cups of chicken broth, just enough to cover everything. I also did some seasoning at this point. Just some bay leaves, more ground cloves, more pepper. Unfortunately, my nose was still very stuffed when I made this soup, so cooking was still difficult.

Considering how soft the squash was after being pre-cooked in the oven and how soft the vegetables were after their slow saute in the pan, I only had to simmer the whole shebang for about half an hour before I deemed it ready to be blended. I had to blend it in sections because their was so much. It took at least four full batches in the blender to go through all of it. (I may have overfilled twice as well, leading to the dogs getting a free snack). I added a little heavy cream each time to add to the creaminess.

After all of it was blended and back in the pot there was a preliminary taste test/smell. My mother was home but she found it difficult being my surrogate nose, probably because I asked questions that made sense in my head, like "Does it smell balanced?" that for some reason didn't make sense to her.

It was a bit bland at first, but after some fiddling, it turned out SUPER TASTY. I kind of just had at it with the spice cabinet so I can't be exact with what I added, but I know it involved garlic salt, cinnamon, oregano, nutmeg, ground pepper. In retrospect those sound weird to all be together, but I wanted it to taste like autumn and in the end it did.

My one stupid mistake? I forgot to take out the bay leaves before blenderizing. D'oh! Oh well, little bits of dried spice bits in an otherwise awesome soup are forgivable....right?

One last thing. When I talked about blocking knitted squares, I shared a picture of my dear dog Ben cowering under the ironing board because it was windy out. Well, it was windy while I was chopping vegetables for this soup too, and Ben likes to be as close as possible to his humans when he is scared.

This picture may be a little hard to figure out, but this is Ben squeezed between the counter/oven and my legs. The angle is from my point of view looking down at him, while he looks up at me with his big puppy dog eyes.

Until next time!

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