Monday, February 28, 2011

Food: Butternut Squash Soup

Although it's a couple months into the New Year and most of us have hopes for Spring, Mother Nature keeps sending swaths of snow to Southeast Michigan. About a week ago all the cold whiteness had melted (we actually hit the "balmy" upper 50's twice!)…and she tricked me into thinking warmer weather had arrived. But then she decided to play a dirty prank and dropped a cascade of another 10" of snow...in one short evening. More shoveling (groan)! Alas I must turn to food again to make me believe warmer weather is indeed in the not-so-distant future.

When I first found this recipe, I wasn't quite sure what to think. I mean, who's ever heard of a winter squash soup topped with summery/tropical ingredients (cashews, green onions, bananas, curry powder, and coconut)? But then again, I love unusual combination of flavors (or unconventional surprises and delights as we would call them in Marketing). Especially when those combinations can warm me up on a cold day -and- give me the feeling of a warmer destination.

Knowing Ina Garten's recipes and her keen sense of what flavors meld wonderfully together, I just had to try this version of butternut squash soup. To make it even better, this dish is definitely filling enough to be the only thing you serve (Lesson learned - I actually made this as a side dish to another meal...and it was completely unnecessary). And it's so festive and sunny in its appearance, no one is going to be able to resist. It might also make you think you're on an exotic beach vacation somewhere….a pink sand beach in the Bahamas, perhaps. Yes, it's OK to dream your way out of the cold, dreary, late-season snow...starting with this soup.






Roasted Butternut Squash Soup and Curry Condiments
Recipe by: Ina Garten via The Food Network



INGREDIENTS

SOUP
  • 3-to-4 pounds butternut squash, peeled and seeded (MM Time-Saver Tip: Many stores like Trader Joe's and Costco sell cut/peeled/seeded butternut squash in containers in the refrigerated veggies section)
  • 2 yellow onions, chopped
  • 2 apples, peeled and cored (MM Note: I used Pink Lady apples)
  • 3 T olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2-4 c chicken stock
  • 1/2 t curry powder

CONDIMENTS FOR SERVING

  • Scallions, white and green parts, trimmed and sliced diagonally
  • Flaked sweetened coconut, lightly toasted
  • Roasted salted cashews, toasted and chopped
  • Diced banana


DIRECTIONS

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  • Cut the butternut squash, onions, and apples into 1-inch cubes. Place them on on a sheet pan and toss them with the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Divide the squash mixture between 2 sheet pans and spread in a single layer. Roast for 35 to 45 minutes, tossing occasionally, until very tender.
  • Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock to a simmer. When the vegetables are done, place them in batches in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add some of the chicken stock and coarsely puree. When all of the vegetables are processed, place them in a large pot and add enough chicken stock to make a thick soup.
  • Add the curry powder, 1 t salt, and 1/2 t pepper. Taste for seasonings to be sure there's enough salt and pepper to bring out the curry flavor. Reheat and serve hot with condiments either on the side or on top of each serving.

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