Tuesday, April 05, 2005


After A and I both concluded we didn't really like this butternut squash soup recipe all that much, I was in the market for another one. Luckily, there is nothing Jack Bishop cannot do with vegetables, and I quickly found this one in The Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook. It's less sweet than the cashew version (the onions give it more bite, I think, and there's no sugar) and takes waaaaay less time because you don't have to bake the squash beforehand. The addition of cheese doesn't hurt, either. This is simple and tasty, and while it's not my new favorite soup or anything, it's a noble use for a squash.

Jack calls for whole milk to give the soup creaminess, but since I had some half-and-half in the fridge already, I just used a mixture of half half-and-half (oof, that's a lot of halves!) and half 1% milk, which I figured would approximate whole milk. When I added 1/4 cup of this mixture to the first of the two batches of soup I was pureeing in the blender, the soup got very thin. So I left the milk/cream out of the second batch of soup, to prevent it from being downright runny. I don't know, maybe my squash was small or I had a little too much stock, but it's possible the amount of milk Jack calls for is excessive. I'd be cautious when adding it; just start with a few tablespoons and go from there. I guess it depends on what texture you like, but in my household we want our soup to have some body.

1 medium butternut squash (about 2 and 1/2 pounds)
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 and 1/2 cups stock (Jack calls for vegetable, it being a vegetarian cookbook and all, but I used chicken because that's what I make homemade) or water (eek, I wouldn't recommend that unless it was an emergency)
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper
1/2-3/4 cup whole milk (or whatever, some kind of dairy drink, and be forewarned you might not use all of it)
12 fresh sage leaves
4-6 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Cut away and discard the tough skin of the squash. (Jack says to use a knife, but knowing my knife skills, that sounds like a disaster waiting to happen, and I've found that you can do this really easily with a good vegetable peeler.) Use a knife to cut off the very ends of the squash, then halve the squash and scoop out and discard the seeds and stringy pulp with a spoon. Cut the flesh into 1/2-inch chunks (Jack helpfully notes there should be about 6 cups) and set it aside.

2. Heat the butter in a soup kettle over medium heat. When the butter is warm, add the onion and saute until golden, about 6 minutes. Add the squash chunks and cook, stirring often, for 2 more minutes.

3. Add the stock, the teaspoon of salt, and pepper to taste and bring the soup to a boil. Lower the heat, cover the pot, and simmer until the squash is tender, about 15 minutes.

4. Transfer the soup to a blender (I had to do this in two batches) and add the milk (Jack says to add 1/2 cup and then add more if necessary to thin the soup, but as I mentioned above, I only really needed a few tablespoons before it became more than thin enough for me.) Pour the pureed soup back into the kettle and heat it briefly until hot, then ladle it into bowls. Chop the sage leaves and sprinkle them atop each serving. (Jack says to garnish each bowl with 2 whole sage leaves, but who wants to pick big leaves out of their soup?) Sprinkle a tablespoon of cheese over each bowl, plus a little more pepper.

Serves: 4-6
Time: 30-40 minutes

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