Monday, November 22, 2010

Guest Post: Butternut Squash Soup - Test Kitchen Tuesday

Angela is on a mission to eat healthy one new meal at a time. You can catch up with her at Test Kitchen Tuesday

Hi everyone! Before we get started, I just want to say how happy I am to be here. So, my fellow CHG-lovers, it’s so nice to meet you!

And, now that we’re on a first name basis, I have a confession to make. I am a lot of things: a wife, a small business owner, a triathlete, a skier, and an animal lover, among others. Until recently, I was not, by any stretch of the imagination, a cook.

In fact, I used to pretty much avoid cooking as much as possible, aside from maybe boiling water for pasta. My husband and I have fully remodeled two houses together, which left little time to think about what we were eating. When you’re covered from head-to-toe in some form of paint, drywall mud, tile mastic (or worse), the last thing on your mind is what goes in your mouth. Dinner came out of a box, a bag, or from a restaurant. I. Did. Not. Cook.

About a year ago, I started paying attention to the foods we eat, and, yikes! Have you ever internalized what some of those ingredients in convenience foods really are? I finally did, and had an “ah-ha” moment: I realized the meaning of that old adage, “you are what you eat.”

The past year has been an interesting journey of figuring out how to feed us things that actually qualify as food instead of chemistry, and it has been surprisingly wonderful. Among the many surprises, I found out I really like having an active role in our nutrition. I learned to make things I would have never thought I could make, with ingredients I would have never purchased (or had even heard of) before.

It’s all good.

A while back, I was on a mission to serve my husband, AKA 2ChiliBreadBowl (yes, I actually call him that) something with butternut squash in it. I was certain he wouldn’t actually eat butternut squash if it wasn’t somehow disguised, but he had mentioned he had tried butternut squash ravioli once and liked it. My ears perked up. Anytime 2Chili mentions he likes something that does not involve massive amounts of sugar, ketchup, or barbeque sauce, I take notice. I decided I would try my hand at this magical ravioli he liked.

A surprise dinner guest on that fateful butternut squash ravioli night, which happened to be a Tuesday, gave me the idea to create Test Kitchen Tuesdays. Now, I make something completely new-to-us every Tuesday night, and have started blogging about it. 2Chili is taking it in stride. He’s the first one to admit his palate is about as diverse as your average 6-year-old’s, and watching me put effort into something new and outside my comfort zone in the kitchen has (I presume) inspired him to eat outside his box of chicken nuggets.

All that stage-setting aside, let’s get on to business. I figured since the fabulous and humble butternut squash was responsible for inspiring me to start up our weekly test recipe endeavors, it was only proper to feature a butternut squash recipe in this post.

I happen to like the ol’ butternut in a multitude of dishes, from smoothies (really!) to soup to just plain roasted. When I stumbled on a large butternut squash on the end cap at our local Trader Joe’s for only $1.59, I couldn’t resist. The result of that purchase was this creamy, savory soup that officially qualifies as autumn in a bowl. If autumn in a bowl wasn’t good enough, as an added bonus, it’s so good for you that you can gobble it down without regret!


Original Recipe/Inspiration: The Reluctant Vegetarian.

Recipe Makes: 8 one-cup servings, plus or minus, depending on the size of your squash

 Time Required:
  • 15 minutes to prep
  • 30 minutes to cook
Skill Level (out of a possible 5): 2

Chili’s Taster Rating (out of a possible 5): 4

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 4 1/4 cups low sodium vegetable broth/stock
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • Peel and cube butternut squash, and peel/core apple and set aside
  • Heat olive oil in a stock pot. Once it begins to heat up and thin out, add onion and nutmeg; Saut√© until the onions soften up – 3-5 minutes
  • Add squash, vegetable, apple, and apple cider; Depending on the size of your squash, you may need more broth than called for – just make sure that the apple and squash are covered by about 3/4-1 inch of broth
  • Bring to boil. Then, drop heat to low or medium-low and simmer (uncovered) around 30 minutes, until both the apples and the squash are soft and tender.
  • Add soup to blender with a ladle, making sure to evenly distribute enough liquid to help blend your squash/apples well. The amount of broth you add will determine the thickness of your soup. I had to blend the soup in two batches, and I have a pretty big commercial-sized blender. It’s called the Ninja, by the way. If you’re going to blend, you might as well blend like a ninja!
  • Puree soup until smooth, and serve immediately
General Notes:
  • The original recipe called for seasoning with sea salt and pepper – I am generally not in to adding salt and pepper. Maybe you are. If so, season to taste!
  • If you don’t have apple cider, and don’t want to buy apple cider just for this, you can do what I did. Peel and chop an apple and put it in your blender. Add a couple tablespoons of water, and blend until you have applesauce consistency. Then, pour the applesauce into a sieve that is set up to drip into a bowl, pressing down on the sauce to squeeze out the juice. Let the sauce drip for about 10-15 minutes and you’ll have about 1/2 cup of homemade cider. You can use the leftover applesauce in another recipe to replace some butter. Talk about thrifty!
  • I feel like this recipe would freeze well. Perhaps make up a big pot and save half in the freezer to remember the taste of autumn when we are deep into the winter doldrums.
Nutritional Profile
I used the Lose It app on my iPhone to calculate this info based on a low sodium vegetable stock. Your final results may vary, depending on the type of stock you add.
  • Calories: 79
  • Total Fat: 1.9g
  • Saturated Fat: .3g
  • Cholesterol: 0g
  • Sodium: 79.3mg
  • Carbohydrate: 15.9g
  • Fiber: 2.7g
  • Sugars: 7g
  • Protein: .9g
The Verdict: Okay, I’ll admit it. 2Chili doesn’t much like soup. He has a thing against hot liquids (yes, he knows chili is technically a hot liquid). Try as I may, I have not been able to get him to overcome his hot liquid aversion. So, for him to give it a 4 star rating is a pretty big deal. You’d think I’d learn to stop trying, but I find myself channeling my mother a lot: “just try it, and if you don’t like it, you don’t have to eat it…”

Personally, I thought it was so good I would drink this soup from a mug and call it a thick latte. I guess you’re just going to have to try this one yourself and determine your own rating!

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