Thursday, February 25, 2010

Fall in a Bowl

I almost thought that I missed the opportunity to make my favorite soup.  I know that it is no longer fall, so it's hard to find butternut squash in a lot of markets.  But I got lucky, and found a container of the pre-peeled, pre-chopped stuff (which is actually way more convenient to use).  I started making this soup about three years ago, right when I first started cooking.  I always make a full batch of it and freeze the leftovers.
Note: a tip on freezing leftovers.  I freeze individual servings in tupperware containers, usually overnight. When they are fully frozen, I run the tupperware under hot water for a few seconds, to loosen the contents, and let it slide into a freezer bag.  That way I have individual portions that I can bring with me for lunch or reheat for dinner, but I'm not using up all of my tupperware in the freezer.  And be careful with the tupperware after freezing - they shatter really easily! (Speaking from experience.)
Back to the recipe - this soup is so delicious, and really easy to make, especially if you buy the pre-peeled butternut squash.  My knife definitely isn't sharp enough to manage that task while keeping all of my fingers.  I think it would work really well in a slow cooker.
If you're going to freeze a lot, don't add the milk/cream to the whole pot.  Just add it to whatever you're eating, and then add it when reheating the leftovers.  I never know how dairy is going to last while frozen, so I try to avoid it.  I usually add skim milk (what I have on hand) but this time I added some leftover half-and-half, and I liked it.  It made the soup taste richer.  But I think I'm used to the skim, so I might go back to that.
So I started writing this up while the soup was cooking.  I went to add the rice, when I realized that the box I bought (Zatarain's) had the seasoning already mixed in!  Definitely not what I wanted.  So I had to fudge this part a bit - I added 4 oz brown rice, let that cook for a bit, then added 2 oz white rice.  So make sure that the box of rice you buy has a separate seasoning packet, and don't use that!  Or just use 6 oz of whatever rice you have on hand, like I did.
This is a really easy recipe to work with - you could add herbs to it (I think sage would be great).  You could also add different vegetables - either swap out with different root vegetables, or just add whatever you happen to have in your fridge.  I think this is a great base recipe that isn't too sweet, which is what I have found is the problem with a lot of butternut squash or sweet potato soups.
Oh and one last note!  I recently saw on Dinner at Christina's a great way to use up vegetable scraps - make homemade vegetable stock!  So I decided to give it a try, and I saved my first few scraps - the onion and sweet potato ends from this recipe, and some broccoli stems that were in the fridge.  I'm excited to make some broth once I have enough scraps.

Butternut Squash Rice Soup (adapted from SparkRecipes)
1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed (I used a pre-peeled and cubed 2 lb container - I'm not sure what size butternut squash you would need to get that amount of flesh, but this recipe is flexible)
1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed (mine was 1 lb)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped (*a friend recently told me that if you put the onion in the fridge for about 30 min-1 hr before you are going to use it, it won't make you cry)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/8 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tsp light brown sugar
6 cups vegetable stock (low sodium)
1 box long grain & wild rice
1 cup milk/cream
s&p to taste

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat.  Add garlic and onion and cook for about 5 minutes, until starting to get soft.  Add the remaining ingredients (but not the rice or milk), cover, and cook until the sweet potato and butternut squash are soft.

Use an immersion blender and blend until the consistency of your liking - I like having some chunks still in mine, but you could completely blend if you prefer a smoother soup.  If you don't have an immersion blender, then just transfer the soup in parts to a regular blender, but be careful when blending the hot liquid!
Then return to pot, add the rice and cook until tender.
Stir in the milk/cream and cook until warmed through (don't add if you are going to freeze the leftovers).
Add s&p to taste.
And then enjoy your bowl of fall!

1 comment:

Christina said...

Oh how exciting!! I'm so glad somebody else is going to make the vegetable stock! Good luck and let me know how it turns out! :) I just made our first soup with it earlier this week and it was SO full of flavor from simmering away 3 hours!