What to do on a VERY rainy day...
It is a rainy day. One of those days where it rains and rains and rains. (I can't remember the last time it rained the entire day) so the best way to spend it? Thinking about food and cooking, of course.
Oh wait...I do that everyday!
I kind of like the occasional gloomy day where you really should just stay inside (if you can). I think fall weather may be trying to actually take hold and I am ready for it! Fall is when I am most productive with brisk days and even brisker nights. You can really get some traction with all kinds of fall-ish food and the change in the seasonal produce. I love all of the winter squash varieties. I think they are so much more interesting in flavor and texture than their summer brethren. The grocery stores and farmers markets (Rose District Farmers Market, Cherry Street Farmers Market, and Muskogee Farmers Market, check out their Facebook pages by clicking on their names then go visit) are bursting at the seams with winter squash and pumpkins. I can't believe how many pumpkins there are! Everywhere! Especially the pie pumpkins. I try to make at least one round of pumpkin pie using roasted fresh pumpkin...I know, I know, I'm not a baker but I am a pie maker. And, I do love to make pies. It reminds me of my mother every time. For instance...
And, as much as I love to make pies, I also have a fascination with soup. Not to eat, necessarily, because I am a one-time soup person. I just don't want to eat it over and over again until it's gone. And, you know, that's kind of the point of soup...that you can eat it many times and it gets better each day (to a point). And, I agree it does get better but I still don't want to eat it more than once. There, I'm done with the whole soup situation.
So...my favorite soup and one that I created from scratch (yes, here comes another exercise in cooking without a recipe but I will give you the soup recipe) is Roasted Butternut Squash Soup. Because I also LOVE butternut squash. I like it all kinds of ways but this recipe is a great way to use butternuts, if you have grown too many in your garden. Or, like me, you lost your mind and bought too many at the farmers market.
This was a soup that was inspired by many restaurant-made soups and here's how I did it. Also, not that many ingredients are involved, BONUS!
First, I knew that I wanted to use squash puree hence the need for roasting until soft. Part of the reason is I don't really like to cut up raw squash so if I can find an excuse to roast it for a recipe, I will! But it also gives you an opportunity to instill additional flavor because it is seasoned for the roasting process.
From there, I thought of flavors that go well with the buttery, slightly sweet yet still savory squash. This is where you can go crazy but try adding or changing ingredients/amounts one at a time so you have control over what is happening with the soup.
I love Asian/Thai flavors (I think you all know) so I leaned toward curry and ginger. The trick is to saute the curry and ginger together before adding squash puree. That step really brings out the essential oils and aromatics. To add to the sweetness, I included an apple along with onion and carrot.
Then to make it creamier, just a little heavy cream after I used the immersion blender to really smooth out the texture and make it velvety. Butternut squash is really good at being velvety.
As an aside, you could also take this recipe in a more Mediterranean direction with rosemary, thyme and carameliized onions...hey, maybe that's where we'll go next with this soup!
In the meantime, here is the really great recipe for my "favorite" soup. And, just try to tell me that it ISN'T restaurant quality.
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
¼ cup unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 sweet/tart apple (like Fuji), peeled, cored, finely chopped
¼ cup (scant) grated fresh ginger
4 – 5 tbsp good curry powder
3 medium butternut squash, roasted, flesh removed
2 quarts chicken broth or stock, unsalted
1 cup heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Melt butter in large heavy stockpot or saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, and apple, season with salt and cook until soft but not caramelized. Add ginger and curry powder and cook until the spices are fragrant.
Meanwhile, place roasted squash in the workbowl of a food processor and puree (it will be thick). Add enough chicken broth or stock to thin it to a heavy cake batter consistency. Add sautéed vegetables and spices to the processor and continue to puree until the mixture is quite smooth.
Return puree to the pot and process with an immersion blender. Begin adding chicken broth or stock until the consistency is similar to heavy cream. Allow soup to simmer briefly then add cream and warm slowly over medium low heat.
Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with large homemade croutons. It is also nice to add crumbled bacon over the top with a drizzle of sour cream.
And as always...
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