Jan 10 2011
Talk about perfect timing! I planned to use the very last of our local butternut squash in a creamy soup right as a the author of a wonderful, mainly vegetarian blog, Branny Boils Over, announces she’s sponsoring a Charity Souper Bowl in February. Basically, she’s going to give $1 to the ASPCA for every soup recipe other bloggers send her. She also has an option for non-bloggers to send her their fav recipe as well. Branny, I got one for ya right here! And, just for you, it’s completely meat-free
Cheesy Butternut Squash Soup
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Soup Cookbook and Bon Appetit
2 lbs cubed butternut squash (1/2″ cubes)
1 head garlic, separated into cloves
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup chopped carrots
1 1/2 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 Tbsp chopped thyme
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup half and half or milk
3 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Spread the squash cubes and garlic cloves on a baking sheet; drizzle with 2 Tbsp olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in hot oven for 30-40 minutes, turning cubes over once in the middle of baking. Keep an eye on the squash because it can scorch and appropriate roasting time will depend on the exact size of your cubes. While squash and garlic are baking, heat the 1/4 cup olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add carrots and saute for about 3 minutes. Add celery and onion and saute until all vegetables are almost tender. Add thyme and saute one more minute. Add vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Remove squash and garlic from oven and transfer to simmering soup. Use a stick blender to puree the whole mixture or transfer to a standard blender in batches. Once no chunks of vegetables are visible, return mixture to pot, stir in half and half or milk and heat through. Add shredded cheese one handful at a time, stirring constantly until each handful is melted and integrated. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with heavy cream, sour cream and/or extra cheese; serve with crusty bread.
Here’s the God-honest truth: Greg didn’t like this one. Too much vegetable, not enough flavor. And it is a mild soup. Roasting the garlic gives depth but takes away the usual bite and the cheese is sharp but counteracted by the smoothness and sweetness of the squash. I personally loved it but husbands and wives are allowed to disagree. (Even though he is wrong–this is a delicious soup.) For those who, like my husband, are not satisfied with just vegetable flavor, this soup would also take well to a little heat–some smoked paprika or red pepper flakes, perhaps–or would support a nod toward the carnivorous in the way of added bacon, crumbled sausage or shrimp.
At the very least, Greg will be happy that this soup has helped up the ante on Branny’s donation to the ASPCA. He’s a dog kind of guy living in a house with cats for six years and it was recently time for us to expand our family to include canines. About a month ago, we adopted a playful and affection (if not maddeningly stubbon) 1-year old lab-shepherd mix.
He came from a shelter with a strong and meaningful name but we couldn’t shake the desire to name him Basil. We say it like the herb: BAY-zuhl, but Greg gets to feeling all distinguished sometimes and calls him BAA-zil. Sometimes he get REAL distinguished and starts calling him Sir BAA-zil and I feel like the dog needs a top hat and monocle or a chain mail suit and a gallant steed. So I stick with Basil. And even though I’m a cat-mom at my core, he’s our darling rescue dog so I dedicate this ASPCA-inspired post to him.