Around our house (and probably a lot of yours, too), winter weather means soup weather. Fortunately, considering the piles of cold and snowiness we’ve been hit with this season, there’s no shortage of classics to pull out or new recipes to try. Whether it’s time-tested favorites like tomato or chicken noodle or new spins like ginger and lentil, Jared and I are quickly learning that great flavors and warm-you-up qualities are pretty hard to beat.
In continued pursuance of the tastiest uses for my newfound love, the butternut squash, I decided to try it in a soup recipe this weekend. There are three different takes on butternut squash soup in the New York Times Essential Cookbook: one that takes all day to prepare and probably tastes amazing because of it; one that blends the natural sweetness of the squash with a kick from cayenne pepper, cumin and cider vinegar; and one pure and simple version that Amanda Hesser says is perfect “to have in your everyday arsenal” because it can be “made in a flash.” For one reason or another, Sundays around our house always seem to get away from us, so “made in a flash” sounded just about perfect for a Sunday dinner.
This recipe is incredibly simple to make without sacrificing that made-from-scratch or simmered-on-the-stove kind of flavor. I followed the recipe to tee and was glad that I did; after tasting the soup throughout the process (my modest effort at seeming a bit more pro), I was pleasantly surprised with the end result. The freshly ground black pepper and diced apples make all the difference.
Butternut Squash and Cider Soup
From the New York Times Essential Cookbook (Hesser, p. 136)
• 1 shallot, sliced
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• ¼ cup water
• 3 cups peeled, seeded and cubed butternut squash
• ½ cup chicken broth
• ¾ cup apple cider
• ¼ cup light sour cream
• ½ teaspoon salt
• ½ Honeycrisp or Granny Smith apple, unpeeled and diced
• cracked black pepper
Heat a medium-sized saucepan over low heat. Add shallot, garlic and water, and cook until shallot and garlic are softened, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add squash and chicken broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until squash is soft.
Pour or ladle mixture into blender or food processor (Note: The immersion blender is a no-go with this soup; there’s not enough liquid, and the squash will splatter all over.). Blend until smooth. Add cider, sour cream and salt, and blend until combined. (Soup can be made ahead up to this point and reheated over low heat.) Season with more salt if needed.
Ladle soup into four small bowls, and garnish with diced apples and cracked black pepper.
This recipe makes four teeny portions, so it works really well as a starter to a heartier dish. Or you can pair it with your favorite bread for a light lunch. I’ll probably make a double batch next time around just for the sake of leftovers; that’s a big reason for making soup in the first place, right?
How are you bracing your dinner table for the next big winter storm? With 12 to 18 inches of snow heading straight to Missouri, I better get cooking!
Congratulations to Edy, winner of the 1canoe2 recipe cards giveaway! Edy’s cooking disaster was too wild to pass up. Here’s what she wrote: “My greatest kitchen disaster… A few years back, I was making homemade pizza. A friend, my husband, and I went outside to watch a fire in the mountains. When I went back in to put the cheese on the pizza, I dropped my hot pad onto the element, which immediately went up in flames. In trying to ‘rescue’ my pizza and take care of the fire at the same time, the pizza slid off the pan onto the bottom of the oven. We finally got the fire under control, but had no pizza. My friend decided it was probably best that I never make pizza again when there was a fire burning on the mountain.” Hope you enjoy the recipe cards, Edy! And here’s hoping for fire-free cooking from here on out!