Saturday, July 28, 2012

Butternut Squash Soup

I was strolling through the produce section at the grocery store yesterday when something caught my eye. Butternut Squash. I adore butternut squash. I never used to. I used to think it was just another of those random vegetables that happened to look lovely as a table decoration. However, all of that changed when I ordered a Butternut Squash and Lobster Ravioli on a whim.

There was an excellent Italian restaurant in the tiny town I went to college in. This restaurant was one of those small luxuries afforded to those of use who chose to seek higher education off in the boonies. I had a friend who waitressed there, and one night she brought over this mystical ravioli. Once she opened that take-away box, I was suddenly seduced by the scent of butternut squash, cream, and sage. Next time I was able to go out to eat, I went straight to this restaurant, ordered the ravioli, and fell in love with butternut squash.

Since that dining experience many years ago, I've been meaning to try my hand with butternut squash. I figured that the perfect first step would be butternut squash soup. After reviewing countless recipes, I decided to say 'the hell with it' and make up my own.

Butternut Squash Soup
1 squash
3 cloves garlic, roughly minced
1 TB Butter
1 TB Bacon Grease (or butter/olive oil- but bacon makes everything better!)
2 tsp dried sage
1 tsp basil
1/2 tsp onion powder
liberal sprinkle of kosher salt
pinch of cayenne
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup whole milk or 1/2 and 1/2

Begin by scooping out the seeds and such, then chopping the squash into 1 inch cubes. Set aside.

Heat butter and bacon grease in a large skillet. Add garlic and sage and cook for a few minutes. Be careful not to burn the garlic!

mmmm, garlicky goodness

Add the squash to the pan, stirring to coat. Sprinkle with kosher salt, pepper, basil, and onion powder. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. 

Next, add in 4 cups of chicken broth and a pinch of cayenne. Bring the pan to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes, or until squash shows no resistance to a fork.

In small batches, puree the broth/squash until smooth. Add 1 cup of whole milk or 1/2 and 1/2 if a richer taste is desired, or omit if calories are being considered. Give a final taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

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