Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Life Lessons: Butternut Squash Soup

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Exhibit S: a squash

I realized after I'd posted my first post (!!!) and then organized my profile, etc. that it is seems to be paramount that the first recipe I post over here is the "life changing" pot of soup I made. Which, granted, was pretty life changing: though not the first soup I made (I've made beef stew which is pretty awesome, don't worry, you'll get that one too at some point) it was a Big Deal because it involved Unknown Vegetables, aka I had to go to the store, buy a butternut squash (which are inherently kind of hilarious looking), break it down, and cook it. Amaizng stuff, I tell you. I wrote down the recipe the first time, but I will elaborate here with some useful tips and information that I found out after the fact. Let us begin.

Butternut Squash Soup
(credit: Jenn, @ Pollanesque)


1/2 stick butter (I put in a little bit more than that and it turned out fine)
1 good-sized butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 medium apples, chopped (and I peeled them, don't know if this matters)
6 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract (I'd start with 1 and taste before adding the rest, just in case)

Extra: crusty bread to eat with/dunk in bowl.

Method, and some Explanation:

Now, I wouldn't be writing a very good recipe without taking some time to deal with the most important part of the ingredients, namely "peeled, seeded and cut into chunks". Ever seen a butternut squash? They're sort of... solid. In a way where it's kind of amazing that I still have fingers. So let's talk about the way NOT to do it: peel whole squash, hoping you don't drop it or the peeler or rip your whole finger off in the process. Try to halve squash with large knife in some sort of axe "yeeeeHA" type way as it wobbles precariously on your countertop and you wonder if you could use a sword and. No. Just... no.

Instead, after you've peeled the squash (or before, either way), put it on the cutting board ( were using a cutting board, right?) and see how there's the big bulb part at the bottom and then the neck gets smaller? You want to basically behead the thing (in a manner of speaking) by cutting right where it starts to get skinnier. Now, you have two squash pieces and you can easily rebalance them on the cutting board and chop into slices and eventually cubes (after first peeling it, if you haven't done so). For some edifying pictures, go to Home Hacks awesome article.

Now comes the easier part. 

Use a soup spoon or ice cream scoop to take seeds out of squash. Add butter, vegetables, and broth to a stock pot (translation: fancy name for kind of big pot) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until squash is tender, about 25 minutes. You can find out if your squash by using one of the best inventions: a fork. If you can easily stick in or through a piece of squash, guess what? They're tender. Remove from heat. Add vanilla (depending on how "sweet" you want your soup, I'd start small and build up, otherwise it's a little like having dessert for a meal. Not that that's bad...) Puree with an immersion blender or in a regular blender or food processor. Serve with crusty bread and enjoy. I particularly like the rip up the bread and make impromptu croutons. Yum. A pot serves 4-6, or makes 4-6 meals—keeps well in the fridge for several days.


Important things to remember: knives are sharp. Please be careful. Things you might not remember (because I didn't): vegetable peelers are sharp too, as their job is to peel things. Give them as much respect as you give knives, so you will end up cavalierly slicing off tips of your fingers. Also note, it is important to make sure that you blend up all the soup so that they're aren't pieces left in it. If you do, don't worry. In addition, don't feel compelled to go poking around in it, accidentally sticking your fingers in the just short of boiling soup.

Life lessons, people. Sometimes they hurt. But, often? They're delicious.

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