Monday, November 30, 2009

Pureed Butternut Squash Soup

In keeping with our “nuts” theme for Thanksgiving, I wanted to try a butternut squash soup recipe completely forgetting that A had already made a wonderful one for our “honey” themed Valentine’s Day dinner.

Before I began my search for a recipe, I had no idea how many variations there were for this soup. Since I didn’t recall A’s soup, I didn’t know what butternut squash tasted like and so found it difficult to choose a recipe. Ginger? Garlic? Curry? In the end, I decided to go with a very simple recipe with minimal seasonings, emphasizing the flavor of the squash.

I have to learn things the hard way. Here’s what I learned about Butternut squash specifically and vegetable based soups in general.

Pumpkin is a squash. If a pumpkin is nearly impossible to cut and peel (think jack-o-lantern), then it stands to reason that all squash are nearly impossible to cut and peel. I have arthritis in my hands. By the time I had finished peeling, seeding and cutting three pounds of butternut squash, my hands were so painful that I was literally sobbing. A, you may have the honor of making all future dishes involving squash.

A food processor is NOT the same as a blender. Yes, it has a plastic bowl with evil little blades at the bottom. The difference, and it is a huge difference, is in the cover. A blender has a cover that seals tightly. A food processor, on the other hand, has a cover that merely clamps tightly to the bowl. Any liquid that reaches the top will be forcibly ejected from the machine by the whirling blades resulting in a soup splattered kitchen. Did I mention that I recently wallpapered my kitchen? Recently, as in the week before Thanksgiving?

Those were my misconceptions. Here is Martha’s misconception. Admittedly, I wasn’t able to puree the soup completely and a certain amount did wind up decorating my walls, floor, countertop and cabinets, but I still am not sure why she thought the resulting soup would be so thick that it would need to be thinned with a little water. My soup was too watery.

Thankfully, I had made it first before tackling the mashed potatoes and gravy. My reasoning was that it could always be reheated before being served. Instead, I left it simmering and cooking down on a backburner while I attended to the rest of the dinner. A was kind enough to keep an eye on it for me, stirring and checking the consistency.

Despite the best efforts of both Wooden Spoon cooks, this soup was too thin. It also needed more seasonings or a different oil. The taste of the olive oil almost overpowered the taste of the squash.

Verdict: What was Martha thinking???

Pureed Butternut Squash Soup
(Source: Everyday Food January/February 2008)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, coarsely chopped
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
3 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 can (14 ½ ounces) reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 to 3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

In a large Dutch oven or pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion. Season with salt; stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes.

Add squash, broth, and enough water (4 to 5 cups) to cover. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium, and simmer until squash is tender, about 20 minutes.

Using a blender or an immersion blender, puree broth and vegetables until smooth. If using a blender, work in batches and fill only halfway, allowing heat to escape: remove cap from hole in lid, cover lid firmly with a dish towel, and blend. Transfer to a clean pot as you work. Adjust soup’s consistency with a little water if necessary. Season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice.

Recycle: olive oil bottle, chicken broth can

Compost: onion skin, squash seeds and skin

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