All day at work, I looked forward to making the butternut squash soup that is the first topic of this post. Today was a very rainy, blustery, cold October day and I kept thinking of how perfect this weather was for my soup and bacon/cheddar scones.
Butternut squash is my favorite soup next to matzoh ball soup, and ever since I had it for the first time at the cafeteria of my former place of employment, I’ve been mystified as to how this golden orange soup from heaven (I know, “soup from heaven” — I’m tired and coming up with the most colorful, yet non-cheesy descriptions is not my forté when tired — in fact, words usually escape me, period) was made. I thought, how do they do that? I think it speaks volumes about how little I knew about cooking at the time when I couldn’t figure out that they pureé the butternut squash after roasting it.
Anyway, I used two recipes as my jumping off point for making this soup. Both, of course, are from the Food Network web site. Actually, the recipe I followed more closely came from Gourmet magazine (but happened to be posted on the Food Network site), and the recipe for the sour cream garnish came from this variation of the soup.
I pretty much followed the first recipe except for the amount of chicken broth (I used only two cups plus one cup water to reduce sodium), and I didn’t add any additional water after pureéing — it had enough liquid, I think.
I can’t properly describe the smell of ginger and onions sauteéing in butter in one word, but the sweet smell of the butter with the slightly pungent aroma of the onions in concert with the refreshing smell of the ginger just made me want to keep inhaling the steam coming from my saucepan.
After the onions were soft and translucent, I added the broth and water, let it simmer for a few minutes and then added the butternut squash pulp that I prepared last night:
After that came the part I’d been nervous about — the pureéing. You see, I have a dinky little two-cup food processor which my wise, wise mother thought to give me when I first moved out. Back then, I didn’t know I’d turn into such a cooking enthusiast and so it was more than enough for my needs. Unfortunately, I also didn’t see the day when I’d try to make my own butternut squash soup from scratch. But I soldiered on, not to be discouraged by the size of my food processor — and it did the trick. Of course I had to ladle in two cups of soup at a time, but in the end I was successful. Just call it the Little Food Processor That Could:
I still want an immersion blender though. I saw a pretty good deal on Amazon in fact on a Cuisinart immersion blender for $29.99 and free shipping. But I digress…
After the pureéing stage, it was back to the pot for additional seasoning and whatnot. While this was happening, I put together the sour cream and lime garnish from the second recipe (it’s actually a curried butternut squash soup recipe) and refrigerated it. After that was done, I fried a little bit of bacon — it really does make everything better! — and used it as part of the garnish for the soup. I put a bit of the sour cream and lime in the middle of my bowl, sprinkled on the bacon, and voilà:
I really need to get more white bowls and plates. These have been with me since I moved into this apartment (they were a gift from a friend) and have been going strong all these years. But I don’t think they add as much aesthetic value as white servingware would.
Sour cream swirl in my soup…
The sour cream with lime gave the mellow, hearty flavor of the soup a bit of a kick that woke up my palate. I was at first skeptical to even make this garnish, but I’m glad that I did. The garnish made that much of a difference that it almost feels like the word “garnish” is ill-fitting for what the sour cream/lime combination (not to mention the bacon!) did to the soup. It was like having 2 completely different variations of the soup from one batch.
By itself, the soup was a good blend of the sweetness of the butternut squash, the savory flavor of the broth and I loved that after tasting all the flavors in your mouth, the subtle hint of ginger would come singing through, like a soloist, making her way past the other members of the chorus to the center of the stage. Yes, the solo is short and not at all overpowering, but it leaves you wanting an encore. I had the soup with my bacon/cheese scones and it was the perfect meal for weather like tonight’s.
I would say that this was a successful first attempt at butternut squash soup. Would I make improvements? Of course. I would maybe add a little more ginger, decrease the amount of stock for a thicker consistency…but all in all, not a bad start.
In addition to tonight’s soup, I tried out a recipe for Chocolate Chip Rice Krispie Cookies. Initially brought to my attention by my cousin, I thought this was an interesting concept — why not throw Rice Krispies in with your chocolate chip cookie?! Indeed, why not? And so I did…
The dough was a little dry when I was putting it together, but I followed the recipe to the letter. It’s hard to see the Rice Krispies in the picture above, because the colors all blend, but they’re there. The dough wasn’t so hard to work with, in fact, it was pretty easy to form into balls…
I think the next time I try to make these, I’m going to try a different recipe for the dough and then just throw in the Rice Krispies. I feel like the dough part was missing something. I mean, you could probably take any chocolate chip cookie recipe and throw in the Rice Krispies as an afterthought and you’d still get the same, or even better result, depending on what chocolate chip cookie recipe you use. But like I said, I am not a fan of crispy cookies — cookies should be soft on the inside, gooey, moist…and just a little bit crisp on the outside, but not so crisp that it overshadows the gooey/soft experience. I probably wouldn’t make these too often unless requested by someone. I still think that out of any recipe you could make with Rice Krispies, Rice Krispies Treats are probably the best way to go.