Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Butternut Squash Soup

September is the best month to be in New England. The days are warm and feel like summer but the nights have a nice autumnal crispness. I go to New England every year in September to see my family, have a bit of open space and celebrate my birthday. This year I saw all but one New England State on my trip! I started in Boston, drove up through New Hampshire to Maine, drove back to CT to see my parents, then took a day trip to Rhode Island. Personally I feel that the further north you go the more "New England" you get. The few days I spent in Maine were heavenly; the people are laid back, the scenery is pristine and you really feel the culture of New England.

At this time of year in New England, squashes are one of the most prevalent vegetables at the markets. Historically squash was one of the few vegetables that would store well throughout the long, cold winters so they became a stable of the settlers diets (there is a reason Americans love pumpkin!) One of my favorite squashes that is readily available in the UK is butternut squash. It has a nice sweet flavor that's good both for savory and sweet dishes. Last night I decided to make a butternut squash soup to remind me of my holiday. This soup takes a while to make but most of the time is not active so you can make this while doing something else.

Butternut Squash Soup
1 Butternut squash
1 cube of knorr vegetable bouillon cube
a handful of shallots (about 6) or 1 onion
Water (approximately 3/4 of a liter-6 cups- but it depends on how big the squash is)
1/2 cup of white wine
6 sage leaves

Cut the butternut squash in half and scoop out the seeds (see recipe below for spiced seeds) place the butternut squash, cut side up, in a 200 Degrees C /400 Degrees F oven for 45 minutes or until soft. Take out of the oven and let rest for 5 minutes.

Scoop the flesh of the butternut squash out of the rind. Combine the squash flesh and the shallots in a pot. Lightly fry this mixture for 5 minutes. Add the vegetable cube and enough water to cover the vegetables by about 1 inch. Simmer for 15 minutes adding more water if soup looks too thick. Add the wine and cook for 5 more minutes. Blend the soup adding the sage leaves as you blend (the wand/stick blenders work really well for this because they can just be put directly into the hot soup) Simmer for 2 more minutes and serve

Cook time: 77 minutes
Active time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4-6

Spicy Squash Seeds
The seeds of a large squash (pumpkin, butternut, spaghetti, etc)
1 tbs of spices (I like using either Caribbean spices or mild curry powder)

After the seeds have been removed from the squash put them in a colander and run water over them. Place the seeds on a foil lined baking pan and sprinkle them with spices. Mix the spices and the seeds around on the baking pan. Bake at 200 Degrees C /400 Degrees F for 20 minutes. These are great on salads or as a snack.

Cook time: 20 minutes
Active time: 5 minutes

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