i made something delicious: butternut squash & apple soup

Saturday, November 03, 2012

I'm still getting over October, November. But all this means is we are on a locomotive into Thanksgiving and Christmas, the holiday season. And that means COOKING DELICIOUS THINGS.

Fall is by far my favorite season, and Chicago has not let me down so far (though I'm pretty sure it's about to--time for a 'real' winter!). The trees have been beautiful, the weather perfectly crisp, and lots of yummy things are in season. This is the time of year for sweatpants, candles, sweaters, scarves, boots, baking, cooking--basically, it's nesting season. And boy do I love me some nesting.

Now that fall fruits and vegetables are in season, a trip to the grocery store is nerdly-exciting because of all the potential delicious dishes. Say that five times fast. Last night I was feeling poorly and decided to call it a night in, and since I always want to make soup from scratch and bake pumpkin-y things, I decided to try out one of my favorite online chef's recipes.

This is the video, if you are interested. I came across Bruno Albouze on a search for a demonstration of the best way to cook eggs over easy (which was all I pretty much ate for the month of September, strangely enough). I was hooked by his bizarre, yet incredibly awesome accent (I may have rewatched the above video just to hear him say "butternut" a few more times) and fun approach to cooking. He just seems really nice and endearing, and I hope he gets more well known. But moving on.

This recipe for Butternut Squash and Apple soup from scratch came up in my subscriptions, so I gave it a try. I LOVE butternut squash, yet have never tried working with it myself, and as mentioned before, this season just makes me want to make batches and batches of soup like I'm looking after Oliver Twist. The ingredients and spices involved sounded scrumptious, so here is my take on the step-by-step recipe from above.

Here are some things you'll need.

You'll need a nice butternut squash. I went crazy at Whole Foods with the produce, but it's just too good! Oh, and a nice knife is probably more important for this step. Chop it up in quarters, and gut your squash as well. That sounds vaguely inappropriate.

Do not chop your thumb into quarters, like I tried to do. Make sure you put on a bandage if you do nick yourself!

Chop into chunks (again, not your fingers).

Peel, core, and chop up two sweet apples--I used Gala. Look like a crazy person.

Scrub and chop two medium carrots as well. Impersonate a deranged Bugs Bunny. No, I am not cooking in the nude.

These are your choppins. A smidge of advice, a large, good, solid cutting board makes all this a lot easier.

Melt butter and olive oil in a large stock pot.

Make sure, for the most part, you're working over medium heat. Oh, and can I just say, I LOVE gas ranges. And forgive my creepy stock pot reflection.

Chop up a medium yellow onion, and please do a better job than I do. I got the pieces of smaller, but I swear with onions, they defy the notion of "practice makes perfect". I swear I've chopped a million onions and they always look like a cat tried to cut them up with a blunt knife. Also they usually make me cry because even if I cut them the 'right' way, it doesn't matter. Onion rage over.

Cook onions in oil and butter for ten minutes, then add in diced garlic and cook a few more minutes. Can I just say, garlic is SO good. I love garlic so much.

In those ten minutes, I peeled and washed potatoes for mashed potatoes. Nom.

 Now that your onion/garlic is nice and good, add in all your chops, and then your spices as well. Don't forget salt and a generous amount of pepper.

 The recipe calls for "curry spice, turmeric and cardamom--plus an optional pinch of saffron", but this Curry Powder (and I'm assuming all curry powders/spices) contains turmeric and cardamom already. So, I just used this--I'm not sure if I read the instructions wrong or what. Also saffron is always stinking expensive, so yeah.

 Mom's mashed potato method. Wash them good, then cover with water and boil, and cook until done. Works every time.

 Cover your choppins' with water, bring to a boil, and let simmer for 40 minutes.

I found that it took about the same amount of time for the potatoes to get soft and 40 minutes of simmering. I fixed the potatoes right up until the soup was ready, so it worked out perfectly.

 Other tips for a cozy, lazy Friday night in. Super comfy, soft sweatpants, "boyfriend" style so they have a giant crotch area and are basically fat pants. Fluffy pink boot slippers.

 Cinnamon candle in a creepy fox-fall leave holder.

 A good movie. My roommate and I ended up having an impromptu couch marathon with this one, then Bridesmaids. Not a bad Friday if you ask me!

Drain your potatoes when ready, still letting the soup kick away.

 Mashed, adding in butter, milk, salt and pepper. Done!

Should be looking mighty tasty by now! Make sure to keep tasting, and adding salt and pepper as you see fit.

 Final addition: apple juice! Recipe calls for a cup and a quarter, I believe, but add as much to get your desired consistency. For the record I feel like the amount was a bit too much--the soup wasn't as thick as I would've liked.

Finally, blend with one of them fancy soup blender things. Feels very official, don't cha know. I may have overblended, because my soup ended up more watery than thick, but this also could've been too much water and/or apple juice. After you've blended, make sure to strain.

And there you have it! I served with toasted sourdough bread and mashed potatoes. Yummmmm!

Optional garnishes: dollop of sour cream, toasted pumpkin seeds (I used my roommate's from pumpkin carving!), and a dash of cinnamon. End result--something hearty, simple, delicious, and very healthy and fall-appropriate. It makes enough to freeze a good batch, as well. Enjoy!

Screenshot of Bruno's recipe.

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