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Curried Butternut Squash Soup

9 Oct

I can’t lie, I considered skipping this week’s Project Pastry Queen assignment.  I have a go-to recipe for Butternut Squash soup that I created myself and I just can’t bear to leave it behind.  That said, I’m glad I gave this one a try because it certainly gave my normal recipe a run for its money!

I had just come back from a weekend trip away so I wasn’t particularly looking forward to standing over a hot stove, but  it’s soup so it’s a cinch to throw together and let simmer while you take a disco nap in the hopes that you can sort of maybe catch up on the rest you didn’t catch up on over the weekend because you were having too much fun.  I don’t know why I always think soup is a long complicated process so I shouldn’t hesitate in the future.

This soup is a great recipe to keep for a cool Fall evening–the spices will warm you right up!

Note: 1 1/2 lbs of butternut squash is a relatively small squash compared to what I normally see at the grocery store.  Either make sure to get one that’s close (I had to do a 2 pounder), make a double batch of soup, or save the extra squash for something else, like Butternut Squash Risotto (my first recipe on the blog ever!)

Curried Butternut Squash Soup
adapted from The Pastry Queen, by Rebecca Rather
serves 4 to 6

  • 2 Tbs unsalted butter or olive oil
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and sliced
  • 1 1/2 lbs butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
  • 1 medium russet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 Tbs curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Greek yogurt, for garnish
  1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and carrot and saute over medium heat for about 3 minutes, or until the onions begin to soften.
  2. Add the squash potato, ginger, cinnamon, curry powder, and salt;  Saute for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the stock, milk, cream, honey, and paprika and bring the soup to a boil.
  4. Decrease the heat, cover the pot, and simmer the soup over low heat for about 45 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft.
  5. Puree the soup with a stick blender (what? you don’t have one yet?!) until smooth.
  6. Add black pepper and additional salt to taste.  If the soup seems too thick, add more milk or chicken stock.
  7. Serve hot with a dollop of Greek yogurt on top–it adds a wonderful tangy flavor!
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Acorn Squash Bisque

28 Sep

I have just been beside myself with glee watching all of the squash and pumpkin recipes popping up all over Pinterest and the food blogging community!  I love love love the Fall for cooking and I wasn’t sure where to start diving in but, I have to say, this bisque is an excellent start to the deluge of Fall recipes coming at you!

I admit that I was hesitant to switch it up from my normal Butternut Squash soup but was delighted with the results.  The recipe makes a delicious, almost delicate, bisque that would make a fantastic start to a large hearty meal, or just as a light meal in itself.  It does thicken up as leftovers, but reheat it very very gently, as mine started to curdle very quickly.  (You wouldn’t think it, but a quick whirl with the stick blender gets rid of all those unsightly white specks in an instant)

The soup was excellent with just the little bit of thyme seasoning it, yet I could tell I wanted just a teensy bit more flavor.  I make a mean Butternut Squash soup so I had to physically restrain myself from adding all the normal spices I add to that–I wasn’t making a clone, after all.  I left the nutmeg, the cinnamon, bay leaf, and rosemary behind (but it was almost painful to do so) and stared at the rest of my spice shelf.  I hesitated for a second before grabbing the cloves, knowing they would be overpowering if I wasn’t careful.  It was just what I was looking for!  1/8 of a teaspoon is honestly all that is needed for the whole big pot to give the soup that warm spiced flavor without losing the delicate acorn squash flavor.  It doesn’t have the stunning orange color that butternut squash soup or pumpkin soup does, but it is absolutely a wonderful addition to the Fall dinner table.


Acorn Squash Bisque
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Serves 4 as a main dish or more as a starter appetizer

  • 2 acorn squashes (3 pounds total)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 – 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Halve squash lengthwise; scoop out and discard seeds. Place squash, cut side down, on a rimmed baking sheet; cover tightly with aluminum foil. Roast until almost tender when pierced with a knife, about 20 minutes minutes. When cool enough to handle, scrape out flesh and discard skin.
  3. In a large saucepan, melt butter. Add onion; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 3 to 5 minutes.
  4. Add squash, thyme, broth and water. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce to medium, and cook until squash is very tender, 10 to 12 minutes.
  5. Working in batches, puree mixture in a blender until very smooth (or leave it in the pan and use a stick blender, the most useful soup tool ever). Return to pan; add half-and-half, cloves and season to taste with salt and pepper (mine didn’t need any extra).
  6. Serve garnished with thyme sprigs.

End-of-Summer Vegetable Soup

16 Sep

All summer I was thinking, “Man, I should be making vegetable soup.”  Of course now it’s September and I never got around to making vegetable soup.  And then Real Simple dropped this recipe in my inbox last week and I thought: “it’s a sign!”  So I went to the co-op and sorted through the last of their summer veggies and I guess I shouldn’t have been so surprised at how quickly this soup was thrown together.  Just slice it all up and throw it in the pot and it’s ready in 10 minutes!

I added a few spices to the recipe I received–the original had only the fresh dill.  First and foremost, I added cayenne which is my all time favorite spice to add to vegetable soups.  I feel like some veggie soups’ flavor can just glide over your tongue and disappear as soon as you swallow.  Just a little cayenne gives it a just a touch of heat that keeps the flavor lingering on your tongue.  I also added garlic powder because it grounded the flavors.  A toasty bit of garlic bread would have made this a perfect complete meal to close out the summer!

End-of-Summer Vegetable Soup
Adapted from Real Simple

Serves 4

  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 can (15 oz) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 large zucchini (or 2 medium), cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 large yellow squash (or 3 small-medium), cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 pound green beans, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 cups corn kernels (cut from 2 ears, or frozen)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt (plus more to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill springs
  1. In a stock pot or large sauce pan, bring the chicken broth to a boil.
  2. Add all of the vegetables and spices except for the dill and turn the heat down to medium.
  3. Let everything simmer for about 10 minutes until the veggies are soft.
  4. Stir in the dill and serve with crostini!

Roasted Carrot Soup

31 Aug

Last week I received a big, beautiful bunch of carrots in my CSA box and I hadn’t the slightest idea what I wanted to do with them.  When I say “big, beautiful” I don’t mean they were just a gorgeous bright orange, which they were, but they had giant green tops on them that were three times the size of the carrots themselves.  I’d never seen carrots like this!  It makes you realize how artificially manicured the carrots are in the supermarket and that we should probably think just a little bit harder about where your food comes from.  Do you want something that came straight from the ground, grown by a farmer who cares about his crops or something that was spit out from a machine?

That all said, I hadn’t the slightest idea what to do with this bunch of carrots.  It took a week and then some, but I finally realized exactly what I wanted: despite it still being a hot summer here in Beachtown, CA, I wanted Roasted Carrot Soup.  Roasting brings out the sweetness in carrots and even the sweetness in the onions in the soup, too (if you know me, I hate onions but loved them in this soup; a testament to the great recipe).  I was surprised at the lack of spices in this soup, save for the standard salt and pepper plus a little garlic and bay leaf.  Roasting the vegetables absolutely gives all the complex, nutty, spicy flavor the soup might need without all the extra spices.

I think the best testimony, however, comes from the boyfriend eating the soup, who had been rather blase about my making it: “I knew it would be okay, but I didn’t know it would be THIS good!” So make it now while the carrots are fresh and local or save this recipe for the Fall when you need to warm up over something hearty.

Note: I tried using my food processor to slice the carrots, but it was an experiment gone wrong.  Wish I had used my mandolin slicer instead!

Roasted Carrot Soup
Makes 3-4 bowls of soup
Recipe adapted from Cooks Illustrated, Nov 2007

  • 1 1/2 pounds carrots (about 8 medium), peeled and sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 medium onion, halved and sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • salt
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cups half-and-half
  • Ground black pepper
  1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees. Spread the carrots, onion on a rimmed baking sheet in an even layer, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast until the vegetables are well browned and softened, stirring occasionally, 25 to 30 minutes.
  2. Transfer the roasted vegetables to a large saucepan. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil, cover, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until the carrots soften further, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the wine and bay leaf; cook until the wine has reduced by half, about 1 minute. Add the broths. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the soup is flavorful, about 5 minutes.
  3. Remove the bay leaf and puree the mixture in a blender until smooth (I have a stick blender that I swear by).  Add the half-and-half and warm over low heat until hot, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste (although mine did not need any salt whatsoever, just the pepper).  I sprinkled a little bit of thyme over my bowl of leftover soup, but it’s good with or without it!
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