Sunday, November 29, 2009

Butternut Squash Soup

My uncle had called me up a few weeks ago to let me know he was planning on Thanksgiving dinner at his house, which was nice to hear from him rather than through my mother.  When I asked what I could bring, I was expecting the normal response of "just pick up a few bottles of wine", which I was totally fine with since I was going to ask what he was cooking in order to attempt some pairings.  Shockingly enough, he replied "well, what do you want to make?"  Never have I brought anything to dinner at my uncle's, so I was rather flattered that he would ask.  I offered to make soup, he said that would be perfect, and that was that.

I had read the butternut squash soup recipe from the Restaurant Nicholas cookbook, and figured that would be a great recipe to bring to Thanksgiving dinner, as well as an easy first recipe as I attempt to cook my way through this cookbook.  I took my time taking shots of my mise and cooking and what not, and of course I left my camera in East Brunswick.  Apologies in advance for the lack of prep photos, but if you want to see some amazing pictures (and another account of the recipe), check out Rob's post at Cooking Through Nicholas.  No, really, go check it out...I'll wait...

OK, so you're back.  I can't even begin to tell you how easy this recipe is.  Roast some butternut squash, with butter.  Saute your aromatic base of onion, carrot & celery root (my new favorite ingredient).  Make a sachet with cinnamon, cloves and whole nutmeg (my new favorite spice).  Deglaze the pot with cranberry juice (!).  Add broth (I cheated this time and used Swanson Certified Organic, a Test Kitchen favorite) and squash and simmer.  Blend (I went with the stick blender, but if you've got a high-powered machine, use a blender).  That's IT.  Easy.

Here's me making the garnish in my uncle's (the funny-looking one on the right).  The garnish is diced butternut squash sauteed in butter, bacon (!) and dried cranberries.

To plate, Steph added a few drops of lemon oil (which are all that is needed - the recipe called for 1/4 tsp, which was way too overpowering), a Microplane of cinnamon, a mound of garnish in the middle, then a large ladle of soup.  I had my mom pick me up some microarugula at Delicious Orchards, but they looked like (and in fact, were) the last that they had.  We tried it for one plate, then quickly abandoned.  Here's the finished product:

 How did it come out?  The original texture was a bit too thin for some, but (thanks to a suggestion to my blog buddy Rob), we let it simmer for a bit when we reheated it on Saturday night and the texture was much better.  As for the flavor, not surprisingly, was amazing - it tasted like autumn, with the earthiness and spiciness really coming through.  Fortunately, this recipe makes nearly a gallon of soup, so we were able to enjoy it for a few days afterwords, and my uncle ended up keeping a tubful for himself!


Rob Timko said...

Can't you just eat that garnish in a bowl by itself? haha.

Looks good

The next time I make this, I gotta make it vegetarian for my mother in-law. I think it will be pretty easy to do, subbing the stock out with veggie and leaving the bacon out, but I wonder how it will affect the taste.

Heather said...

That garnish sounds amazing!

I read somewhere that the Swanson's broth was the best to buy - I need to try it!

Ms. Meg said...

I am digging the action shots you've recently added to the blog!

Alex said...

Rob - I can't imagine using veggie stock will have that much of a difference, especially since it's made with the same aromatics. It's not very refined, but maybe a drop or two of liquid smoke to sub for the bacon?

Heather - It is. I was fighting off hovering family members with a spatula (then helping myself when no one was looking).

Wow - It's really Rob's fault. His photos have inspired me to try to do a better job with my own pictures. It is difficult, however, to try to take pictures while I'm cooking. It definitely adds to the fun.

David said...

It was delicious. You can bring me food any day.