Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Butternut Squash Soup


I love butternut squash. I tend to bake one up on the weekend and put it in the refrigerator to have on hand throughout the week. I use it in pies, soups, mash it as a side dish, stuff it for a main dish... it's so versatile. You can use pre-baked squash in this recipe or cut/peel the squash and add it to the soup to cook. I will explain your options as I go along.  

This soup is great with or without the pasta added to it.  Broken pieces of spaghetti or fettuccine or 1/2 package of gnocchi are great with it. A friend of mine does not like Parmesan cheese and said it was fine without.  I've also added a pear (sliced and peeled) when I added the squash and it added a nice sweetness to the soup.  You can make the soup a little thicker (or thinner) by using more (or less) squash.  Play with it and create what YOU like!

If you want to pre-bake the squash... preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Pop the squash in for about 1 hour or until you can pierce it easily with knife. Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds and throw away. Most of the time the skin just peels right off. It's HOT... be careful.

This recipe is based on a pumpkin soup recipe found in Linda Fraser's Vegetarian: The Best Ever Recipe Collection.  I altered it a little for my tastes... like substituting butternut squash for the pumpkin and playing around with the pasta choice.  The original recipe calls for 6 Tablespoons of Parmesan cheese but I found it to be WAY overpowering.  2-3 was just right for me.

What you will need...

@1-1 1/2 lb of squash (1 medium to largish squash will do... you can bake it ahead of time or cut and peel it into 1 inch cubes)
1 small/medium onion diced
4 Tablespoons Butter (or olive oil if you're vegan)
3 cups of vegetable stock
2 cups of milk (or soy milk if you're vegan)
Pinch of nutmeg
3 Tablespoons Grated Parmesan Cheese (soup is fine without if you're vegan)
salt/pepper to taste
1 1/2 oz of broken spaghetti pieces (or fettuccine, gnocchi, ravioli...) OPTIONAL

1)  Heat butter (or olive oil) in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion and cook until soft.  Add squash (if already baked, proceed to next step.  If not, cook squash for a few minutes before proceeding.)

2)  Add stock, turn heat up a bit and bring to a low boil (if squash is already baked).  If you started with uncooked squash, leave on heat until squash is soft (about 15 minutes or so).  Remove from heat and let it cool a little.

3)  Process soup in batches in a food processor or blender until smooth.  Return it to the pan and add milk and nutmeg.  Season with salt/pepper and bring back to a low boil.  

4)  If using pasta, stir it in and continue to cook until the pasta is done.  Stir in the Parmesan cheese, if using.  

5)  Put in bowls and sprinkle with a little nutmeg.

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