Thursday, November 23, 2006

Soup Shared with Friends


Second Act, First Scene: We return to the celebration of Thanksgiving, but this time it is on the actual Turkey Day.

We are joined by friends from Healdsburg who love a good bowl of soup. Knowing this, I've been looking at soup recipes for weeks, looking on the net, especially on blogs, looking at countless magazines and newspapers for the best recipe for Thanksgiving dinner. I'd actually decided on a Red Pepper Soup from one of my ancient Bon Appetit magazines, but then I spotted a delectable sounding Artichoke Soup by Nic at Bakingsheet.

Everything was fine until I went shopping for the artichokes. I never made it to where they sold artichokes. I passed a sale on winter squash in the bins in front of the store. The cutest butternut squash called my name so now I had to find a good recipe for butternut squash soup. A good soup would please my guests and my Sweetie and also could be part of the Souper Challenge Blog Event which will have lots of soup recipes.

A number of years ago I cooked a winter squash soup and despite liberal additions of hot sauce and herbs, it fell flat in the flavor department. When I found the recipe at
The Domestic Goddess for a butternut squash soup that also included sweet potatoes, ginger, red pepper flakes and apples, I knew that lack of flavor would not be an issue. It's really hard for me to leave a recipe unaltered, even when this is my first go round with it and even if I'm making it for guests. So I made a few changes.

I started by using a Granny Smith apple and a golden one, substituted dried thyme for the cumin, used dried ginger because I didn't have fresh ginger, added some cardamom to balance things and, after the soup was finished and had simmered 15 minutes, I added a dollop of pure maple syrup for depth and to bring out the apple. Chilled overnight and readied for the first course, this soup was full of flavor, smooth but substantial, and a real hit with our friends. In addition to the sour cream garnish suggested, I added red bell pepper in a fine dice. The only downside is that the rest of the meal seemed pedestrian by comparison.

Suave Butternut Squash Soup

1 medium yellow onion
1 average-sized Butternut Squash
1 medium to large sweet potato
1 large Golden Delicious Apple
1 large Granny Smith Apple
2 cloves garlic (crushed/minced)
3 cups low-sodium chicken stock
½ cup skim milk
½ cup fat-free buttermilk
½ teaspoon dried ginger powder
½ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
fresh ground pepper to taste (I used a LOT - gave it a nice kick)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Sour cream and small dice of red bell pepper for garnish


1. Peel onion and cut into ¼" chunks. Set aside. Peel squash, potato and apples and cut into ¼ inch chunks. Re: Squash - I found it easier to first cut it into large pieces and then cut the skin from the pieces, then chop into chunks.

2. Over medium heat in a large saucepan/stock pot, heat 1 tablespoon oil and stir onion and garlic until tender.

3. Add stock, wine, potato, apple, squash and seasoning. Give it a good stir, reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for about 20 minutes until the vegetables are fork tender. Remove from heat.

4. In a blender (or with an immersion blender), scoop about 1/3 of the mixture into blender. On low speed, blend until nicely pureed. While doing this, add about ¼ cup of milk and ¼ cup of buttermilk until creamy. Transfer this to a bowl or a 2nd pot.

5. Repeat step 4, adding another ¼ cup of milk and ¼ cup buttermilk and transfer to bowl or pot; continue until all soup has been creamed.

6. Put soup back on low heat, stirring to blend, and adding lots of black pepper...yum! Simmer for 15 minutes and taste soup. Adjust seasonings and, if desired, add maple syrup. Simmer another 5 minutes.

7. To serve immediately, heat to serving temp, spoon into bowls and add a dollop of sour cream or yogurt if so desired then sprinkle with about a teaspoon of red pepper dice. Otherwise, you can chill it to serve cold or to reheat later. Can also be frozen, probably up to six months. If you have time to cook this ahead, the flavors really combine well when the soup is chilled overnight and reheated just before serving.

recipe origin: A recipe inspired by an original recipe by Andrea and
The Domestic Goddess




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