Sunday, November 16, 2014

Lost in the warm embrace of .......... Butternut Squash soup!

This is a confession - of the ravenous times with my beloved Butternut Squash soup!


Squash is like that classy, somewhat snooty man who walks around with an air of mystery around him. A hard nut to crack and hard to get hold of, but is all yours once you have him. Likewise, a very delightful vegetable once you get to know it. It takes a while to understand how it blends with other flavors and spices, but once you get there, it can be very generous in wrapping you up in its warmth. Squash is of various types - my favorite being butternut. (Spaghetti squash comes a close second, but that's probably only because I get to eat all the "spaghetti" I want without ingesting refined flour.)

But for today, we shall stick to butternut boy! ;-) 
So, what is it that you have to do get that Butternut going on to you?! Follow the directions below!

Ingredients:
- Butternut squash, 1 meduim sized
- Onion, 1 small sized (finely chopped)
- Salted butter, 2-3 tsp or more; be generous & do not substitute with regular oil.
You have not eaten butter until you've eaten this, by the way. The best butter in the world with the best advertising lines you would've ever seen.
Spice it up:
- Salt
- Pepper
- Italian seasoning (optional)
- 1/2 inch fresh ginger, finely chopped/grated (optional; gives a good kick & mellows the "stay in the mouth" feeling of the squash)
- If you like it Thai style/don't want the heat from the ginger/want to dilute the sweetness but keep the creaminess, you can also put 1-2 tsps of freshly grated unsweetened coconut (scrape it at home or buy frozen from an Indian store). 
Note that too much ginger/coconut may be overpowering and may cause the soup to lose its unique buttery creamy flavor, so add little at a time. Taste, test, and decide how much is too much for you.

Method:
- Cut the squash into halves and cover it with some oil. Preheat the oven to 400 F and let it bake for roughly 40 minutes. Will take longer to cook a bigger squash. It's better not to overcook it because after a point, the sugars in it will start to melt out of it, leaving you with a flavorless orange lump - and you don't want that happeing!
- Once done, scoop out the flesh & separate the seeds. Some people like to cut out the portion of the flesh containing the seeds while it is raw; I like the extra sweet flesh that covers the seeds so I prefer doing it this way.
- In a medium sized cooking pot, melt th butter and fry in the chopped onion till it easily disintegrates. Add all the seasoning (except coconut if using). let it cook for another minute or two.
- Finally, add the flesh. Mix everything up nicely while turning the heat to medium. The squash is already cooked, so it doesn't need to be cooked again & only the flavors have to blend in together at this point.
- Add the shredded coconut if desired & mix it in.
- Use an immersion blender to liquefy, pouring water little by little to get the desired consistency. Or simply use a regular blender if you don't have one - the only drawback of using a regular blender is that this is a naturally thick soup and hard to clean up around the blades later.
- For garnishing, sprinkle some pumpkin seeds. Or a few coconut shreds. Or maybe leave behind a few teenie tiny bits of squash into the pot and let them burn slightly, and mix them up into the blended soup.

Finally, pour into your favorite soup bowl, go sit on your favorite couch/bed, snuggle under the blankets, and let the soup embrace you with its buttery, sweet, warm, comforting love..... 




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