Squash Those Winter Blues

We don’t have a clean kitchen very often. I’m known for my delightful ability to cover every inch of my pretty white stove with cooking sauces in less time than it takes me to boil water. Certain dinner choices tend to be a larger issue than others when it comes to my butter fingers. Soup, for instance, and other “splashy” meals will most definitely mar any previous attempts at tidying up my food prep area. There was a time recently when I consumed a few too many Blue Moons and enthusiastically whipped up a butternut squash soup like I was on my very own Food Network special. Considering the tipsy nature of that evening, I could neither remember the exact steps that I took to complete my soup, nor how happy I was with the end result. This week, considering it was still a cold, dry, grey winter month, I chose to give my butternut squash soup another try.

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I had to wait through a designated grace period before taking to the kitchen again, as Katie recently completed a thorough top-to-bottom cleaning that left our counters sparkling in a way that I hadn’t seen since move-in day. Because of this, I was expressly forbidden from cooking for three whole days so that we could enjoy the rare Zen of neatness. When I did break my fast on day three, I whirled through the kitchen like a butternut hurricane, destroying everything in my path. At least I am consistent.

Butternut Squash Soup with Apple & Greek Yogurt

Serves 3-4

Ingredients:

-1 large butternut squash

-3/4 of a yellow onion

-1 medium-sized granny smith apple

-1 heaping tablespoon of minced garlic

-A few swirls of honey or agave

-A few spoonfuls of plain Greek yogurt

-32oz (1 quart) of vegetable or chicken broth

-1 tablespoon of fresh butter

-A dash of cumin & a few sprinkles of sage

-Salt to taste

On the side:

-Fresh baguette

-Balsamic Vinegar

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To Cook:

Peel your butternut squash and scoop out all seeds and stringy bits. Chop the squash into small cubes, about 1 inch in diameter, set aside. Peel and dice the apple and onion as finely as you can. In a large pot or stock pot, melt butter over medium heat, and then toss in the onion, apple and minced garlic. Cook for several minutes, until the onions begin to caramelize and lose moisture. Add the vegetable or chicken stock (I used vegetable, solely because a friend gave us a carton for free after moving out of her apartment recently) and all the butternut squash pieces. Depending on the size of the squash, you might not be able to quite fit all the pieces into the pot. That’s life, right? I threw my extras into a zip lock in the fridge…their fate is still unknown.

Turn up the burner a little, until the soup begins to simmer. Add salt, honey, sage and dash of cumin, and cook the soup until the butternut squash is very tender, about 15 minutes. At this point, turn down the heat and scoop out all the squash, onions, etc with a slotted spoon into a small food processor or blender. This happened to be the first time that I was using this particular food processor, and I had a bit of an infant-like freak out when I couldn’t get the bowl latched onto the base on my first try. Crisis narrowly averted, I continued on my way.

Blend together until it is well pureed, then add it back into the pot. Stir and continue to cook for another couple of minutes, tasting and salting as needed until the flavor is bold and satisfying (add a little more honey if you’d like). At this point, turn on your broiler, slice the baguette and drizzle with balsamic. Toast inside the broiler until slightly crispy, set aside.

Scoop the soup into bowls and add a spoonful of Greek yogurt, swirling together. Serve with balsamic toast pieces for dipping. The yogurt gives it a hearty creaminess without being too heavy, and the sweet smell of the bright orange squash will make you ever-so-slightly okay with the fact that it’s still winter time, and cold outside. Why? Because you’re warm, eating tasty soup….and hopefully, you aren’t in my apartment staring at the apocalypse that was formerly my kitchen. At least the wine glasses are clean.

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