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"A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch." - James Beard


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Butternut Squash Soup with Ginger

Canadian Thanksgiving is upon us and 'tis the season for butternut squash soup!  For me, soup is usually a meal (sometimes with a sandwich).  I don't serve it as a first course at home but if you do, this is a great one for Thanksgiving dinner or any time!

There are hundreds of variations on butternut squash soup.  Some have cream, some don't.    Some are just a simple squash purée and others have a multitude of ingredients.  It's easy to experement and use your favourite ingredients.  I've tried a few recipes and I don't really have a favourite, but this one is really delish! 

This soup has no cream, just vegetables and chicken stock, making it nice and healthy.  You'll need a large butternut squash, one large or 2 medium onions, 4 cloves of garlic, a 2-inch piece of ginger, chilis (optional), 2 celery stalks, 2 carrots and 2 small apples, plus about 4 cups of chicken stock.

Want a great tip for choosing a butternut squash?  Choose the one with the longest neck you can find!  Peeling and chopping a winter squash is no picnic, but the long neck part has no seeds so it's pure squash.  You'll end up with more squash and fewer seeds, and the straight neck is so much easier to peel than the bulbous part.  The seedy part of this squash was so small it was barely worth peeling and seeding.

I peel the squash with a sharp knife, setting the flat end on the board and slicing down.

Once peeled, chop into even-sized cubes.

Then chop your celery...



and garlic and chilis.

You can grate your ginger but I find that a bit of a pain so I just quartered it and threw it in with the peel still on, then removed it before puréeing the soup.  It turned out very gingery so I think it was a success.

Lastly, peel and chop your apples so they don't turn too brown.

Warm a teaspoon of oil in a large pot over medium heat.

Then add your onion, carrot and celery and sauté for 5 minutes until starting to soften.

Next add the ginger, chilis, garlic, apples and squash and cook, stirring for another 5 minutes.  

Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss in a bay leaf if you like.

Then add 4 cups chicken stock (or enough to cover the vegetables).

Bring to a boil and then simmer about 20 minutes until the squash is tender.

Once the veggies are soft it's time to purée the soup.  

But first remove the ginger and bay leaf.

I love using an immersion blender for this.  They're cheap and very handy for soup.  But if you don't have one you can pour the soup in batches into a regular blender.  Just be careful not to let steam build up inside.  Remove the centre of the lid and cover with a towel.

Once the soup is all smooth it is ready to serve.  

Ladle into bowls and serve with a sandwich, crusty bread, a nice salad, or just on its own.

This is also a great potluck dish.  I put it into a crockpot and warmed it up for my co-workers for lunch.  Just don't put the full crockpot on the floor of your car because if someone unexpectedly slams on the breaks in front of you, it's quite the seasonal mess to clean up.

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