Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Variations on Butternut Squash Soup

In the past month, I've received or found three butternut squash soup recipes and have taken the chance to make all of them. They're pretty similar and are each quite tasty. Sadly, though, 1) I have no pictures of any of them being made or eaten; and 2) I can't cite the source for two of the recipes, but I will do my best to track that down and post an update with links. [Update: links are now available for all three recipes]

Soup 1: Squash, Cider, and Apple Soup
This recipe was sent to me by my mom who saw it in the newspaper. That either means my parents' local, small-town paper or the Sunday NY Times.

[Update]: this recipe appears to have come from American Profile and must have been reprinted in a newspaper.

2 T unsalted butter
1/4 tsp salt
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
3 C peeled and diced butternut squash
5 C fresh apple cider (not apple juice)
2 large apples (any kind), peeled, cored, and chopped
2 T light brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
3 C low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1/8 tsp ground cloves

1. Melt butter in a stockpot or large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in onion, cover and cook 10 min.
2. Add squash, apples, broth, salt and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, covered, until squash and apples are soft, about 20 min. Remove from heat.
3. While soup simmers, pour cider into a medium skillet. Bring to a boil and cook until reduced to 4 or 5 T. Remove from heat.
4. Remove bay leaf from soup. Spoon solids into a food processor. Process until smooth. Stir back into broth. Add reduced cider. Reheat soup, stirring in brown sugar and spices.
Serves 6

I made this one Sunday night. I had the soup cooking on the stove when it was time to pick R. up from work, so I turned it off and then finished cooking it and boiled the cider when we got home. I didn't notice any problems with this. A soup you puree is pretty forgiving.

There is a fair amount of prep work with the peeling and chopping, but the cooking process is easy. I would love an immersion blender for recipes like this (and the ones to follow). Instead, I scooped everything into the regular blender, which holds more than our food processor, and then transferred the pureed contents back into the pot.

Results: Delicious with a nice cider tang. My mom thought it was a little too sweet when she made it. My squash was so big that I ended up with close to 4 cups instead of 3, so that might make a difference. I would suggest trying to use less cider. But make the regular recipe first.

Soup 2: Sweet Potato and Butternut Squash Soup
I have no idea where I found this. I'm pretty good about saving links to online recipes in my delicious account, but this one doesn't show up. I'll have to do some computer/web sleuthing.

[Update]: This one came from the New York Times and was by Martha Rose Schulman.

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 pound butternut squash, peeled and diced
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 medium-size Yukon gold or russet potato, peeled and diced
6 cups chicken stock, or vegetable stock
Salt to taste

1. Heat the oil in a heavy soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the ginger and stir together until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the squash, sweet potatoes, regular potato, and water or stock, and bring to a simmer. Add salt to taste, reduce the heat, cover and simmer 45 minutes, or until all of the ingredients are thoroughly tender.
2. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup (or you can put it through the fine blade of a food mill or use a regular blender, working in batches and placing a kitchen towel over the top to avoid splashing). Return to the pot and stir with a whisk to even out the
texture. Heat through, adjust salt and add pepper to taste.

Yield: Serves 6

Advance preparation: You can make this a day ahead and refrigerate. Reheat gently. The soup freezes well. Once thawed, whisk well to smooth out the texture, and reheat. Note: I add 3-4 cloves of garlic to the onions after 4 minutes.

Results: Very similar to the first soup minus the apple and cider. I had an apple going soft so tossed that in (after I cored, peeled, and chopped it), but you couldn't taste that addition at all. I also added some garlic. And I used the blender.

Soup 3: Gingered Butternut Squash Soup
This soup recipe is from Carolyn Cope (Umami Girl) in a post at Serious Eats.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, large dice
2 large stalks celery, large dice
2 large carrots, large dice
2 large boiling potatoes, peeled, large dice
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and seeded, large dice
2 medium apples, peeled and cored, large dice
1 two-inch piece ginger, peeled and grated with a rasp over a bowl to catch any juice
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
A few slices red chili
6 cups veggie stock, chicken stock or water*
Salt and pepper to taste
Lime wedges for serving
*If using water or unsalted stock, add one teaspoon of salt

1. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the onion, celery and carrots along with a good pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften. Add the potatoes, squash, apples, ginger, garlic and chili and cook, stirring occasionally, for five minutes more.

2. Add the stock or water along with a few good grinds of black pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat, then cover and reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until all the vegetables are very tender, 20 minutes or more depending on the size of your dice.

3. Remove from the heat and carefully purée with an immersion blender, or in batches in a regular blender, until very smooth. If you want a completely smooth soup, pass it through a fine-mesh strainer. Serve hot, garnished with lime wedges.
Serves 4-6.

Results: My soup ended up looking browner than the beautiful picture in the link because I was lazy and did not peel the potatoes (or the apples). Other differences - I did not have any celery. The carrots were from a canning project earlier, not fresh. Instead of 2 large potatoes, I used 4 smaller ones. We did not have fresh ginger, so I used ginger from a jar. I also threw the entire red chili pepper in there. I chopped the onion up in the food processor and then for some reason did the same with the (unpeeled) potatoes. Since everything is pureed, I don't think it really mattered, but it didn't look too great.

Yum. Even with all those differences, the soup was still quite tasty. And the lime wedges at the end are brilliant. It also went well with the vodka-with-spiced apple mixer (cut with club soda) we're finishing up from a party.

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