Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Butternut Squash Soup

Freezing doesn't even begin to cover how cold it has been around here the past few days! And what's better in cold weather than soup? Not much!

This is another delicious (and healthy!) recipe from the Cook This, Not That book. This recipe is the book's alternative to Panera's Creamy Tomato Soup, which has 370 calories and 23 grams of fat per serving.  This butternut squash soup on the other hand, has only 150 calories and 3.5 grams of fat - which is especially amazing considering there are bacon crumbles on this soup!


The soup is very easy to make and while there is quite a bit of inactive time needed to roast the butternut squash, the soup really does come together in a flash!

Both the Husband and I really enjoyed this soup.  It was very flavorful and filling, which is incredibly important when it comes to vegetable soups.  The ginger and the nutmeg worked very well with the nutmeg.  As did the Cayenne I added.  Cooking the onions and ginger in the bacon remnants really adds another level of flavor to this soup - and it's especially wonderful when you get a piece of crunchy bacon in your spoonful.  The bacon is a great contrast to the creaminess of the soup.

A couple of notes:
1. My butternut squash took well over the 35-40 minutes to roast that the recipe indicates.  It took closer to an hour actually. And I have a brand new oven that is super hot (in my opinion).  So make sure you check for really soft flesh and don't just pull it out based on the time.

2. If you have an immersion blender, use it.  I hate to pull out my food processor and everything that has to be cleaned up with that, when I can just wash up one wand.

3. I think the soup really benefits from both the sour cream and from some extra heat.  I used Cayenne, but Chipotle would be equally delicious.

Butternut Squash Soup

1 large butternut squash
Olive oil
Pinch of grated nutmeg
Salt & black pepper, to taste
2 strips of bacon
1 small onion, diced
1 tbsp minced or grated fresh ginger
1 green apple, peeled, cored & chopped
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
Chopped chives & light sour cream (optional)
Cayenne or Chipotle Pepper (for added heat, optional)

Preheat oven to 375. Slice the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Rub the halves with a touch of oil and season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and roast until the flesh is very soft, about 35 to 40 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until crispy, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a plate and reserve. Add the onion and ginger to the hot pot and cook until the onion is translucent (not brown), about 3 minutes. Add the apple and cook until soft, another 3 minutes or so.

When the squash is cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh and add it to a blender or large food processor. Add the contents of the pot and pour enough broth to cover. (Be careful not to overfill; work in batches if necessary.) Process until very smooth and return to the pot. Stir in the remaining broth and bring to a simmer. Season with salt, pepper, and a touch more nutmeg.Garish with crumbled bacon, chives, and sour cream (if using).

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