Tag Archives: squash

Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Soup

5 Nov

Finished butternut squash and sweet potato soup, aka fall in a bowl

I’ve decided that the main difference between Gina and I on this blog (and also in life) is that she is a much more calculated and pre-planned type person.  I won’t say that she is more organized than me because I know both of our parents would beg to differ based on the permanent messy states of both of our rooms.  Anyway, she seems to be more of a follow a recipe pretty closely type of gal, while I like to experiment, and usually get ideas from a couple of recipes and then combine them or change most of the ingredients so that the end product is totally different and completely my own.  This is all my very roundabout way of saying I had absolutely no idea if this soup would be at all edible or good at all, but it was!  Which is good news for everyone because I would feel a little bad putting a recipe up that made everyone gag and encourage Gina to ditch her big sis and do this blog thing by herself.

Roasted veggies out of the oven. Try to resist just grabbing a fork and eating all of these.

I’d never ventured into the land of soup before this, but found it surprisingly easy.  This particular recipe really couldn’t be simpler in terms of execution- all you have to do is throw the vegetables onto a pan to roast and then heat them in a pan with some stock and puree or mash them if desired.  I’ve been getting into Indian-type spices recently because they add so much flavor so easily, and here I used cumin, coriander, and garam masala, which all complimented the sweet potato and squash really well without being overwhelming.  If you don’t have all of those spices you could definitely only use a couple and up the quantities, or even just use some curry seasoning to get the same general effect.  I blended about half of the finished soup in my mini-food processor to make it smoother, but you could keep it all chunky and just mash up the vegetables with a spoon/potato masher, or you could puree the whole thing if you want.

The end product was seriously good and a perfect welcome to fall, which it seems has finally come out of hiding and arrived to DC.  Both butternut squash and sweet potatoes epitomize fall and thanksgiving for me, and they are very good ingredients in a soup since they can be broken up easily.  They also caramelize very well in the roasting, and I will definitely be making this soup or a variation on this again very soon!

Big bowl of soup before the mashing begins

Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Soup
Makes about 4 servings

Equipment: Sheet pan, good knife, oven, big pot or two smaller pots, potato masher/wooden spoon, food processor or immersion blender (optional)

Ingredients:

1 whole butternut squash, peeled and cut into medium dice
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into medium dice
1 yellow onion, cut into medium dice
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups (about 32 oz) chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon dried cilantro
1/4 cup half-and-half (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Preheat the oven to 425 F.

Start by peeling and cutting up the butternut squash, sweet potato, and onion. Put vegetables on a sheet pan covered with foil and drizzle with the olive oil and salt and pepper generously. Toss the mixture with your hands to coat everything in the oil, and roast in the oven for 30 minutes, or until squash and potato are tender.

When vegetables are ready, put them into a large pot with the chicken stock, and add cumin, coriander, garam masala, and cilantro. Bring pot to a simmer, and mash vegetables with a potato masher or spoon to break them up. Puree about half of the mixture to make it smoother, either in a food processor or with an immersion blender. Add the pureed mixture back into the pot, add the half-and-half if you want a richer taste, and serve.

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Pumpkin Risotto!

15 Oct

I absolutely love everything about fall… the colors, the gorgeous weather, and, of course, the food. I’ll eat pretty much anything with the word “pumpkin” or “squash” in the title, and while apples aren’t my favorite fruit to eat plain, I love apple desserts. So I knew I had to buy a butternut squash when I saw them at the farmer’s market last weekend, and immediately knew what to make with it: risotto. One bonus with this recipe is that the squash doesn’t get peeled until after you’ve roasted it—I know I get scared off by any recipe that starts with “cut and peel the squash!”

Ready for roasting

I love risotto because you can put pretty much anything into it. Once you’ve learned the basic technique, it’s easy to play around and throw in what you have in your kitchen. I made an awesome version this summer with pancetta and peach, but this squash version is probably my all-time favorite, and I always look forward to having it come fall.  This recipe is from the River Café cookbook (unfortunately, as with a lot of our family cookbooks, the measurements are English… I’ve done my best to convert). I don’t think it’s crucial to be very exacting with measurements when it comes to risotto: I don’t tend to measure the broth, I just know when it’s done because the rice is cooked and creamy! I cut down on the rice this time because my squash was pretty small and I wanted a good ratio, and I left out the alcohol but it was still delicious. The key is really in the technique more than anything: you want to really constantly massage the broth into the rice. It’s a pretty labor-intensive dish, but doesn’t take too long once the squash is roasted (which I did a couple of hours ahead of time). So give it a try some time! Just please, don’t try to make risotto what it is not: fat-free, or non-caloric. Just accept the cheese.

For size reference, my squash was slightly bigger than a Tigger stapler

Pumpkin Risotto, Adapted from The River Café Cookbook

Equipment: Baking sheet, tin foil, bowl, saucepan, heavy-bottomed frying pan, ladle, wooden spoon, cheese grater, large knife.

Ingredients:
About 2 pounds (850 g) pumpkin or squash, whole or 1 large slice, with skin
Sea salt and black pepper
1 bunch fresh or 1 tsp dried marjoram or oregano
2 garlic cloves, peeled and thickly sliced
5 tbsp olive oil
4 cups (1 liter) low sodium chicken stock
1 ¼ sticks (5 oz) butter, at room temperature
1 medium onion, preferably red, finely diced
10 oz (300 g) risotto rice
1/3rd cup (75 ml) extra dry white vermouth, or white wine
6 oz Parmesan, freshly grated

Method:
Preheat the oven to 425 F/ 220 C

Remove seeds and fiber from the center of the pumpkin or squash, and cut the flesh and skin into large chunks. Place, skin side down, on a baking tray brushed with a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper and scatter with the herbs and garlic. Pour over three tablespoons of oil, cover with tin foil and bake until soft, shriveled, and beginning to brown at edges, about 50 minutes. Remove from the oven, allow to cool, then scrape the flesh from the skins and reserve with the juices.

Heat the chicken stock in a saucepan on the stove. You can turn off the heat and cover with a lid once it is hot. Meanwhile, melt 6 tbsp of the butter and remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed frying pan and gently fry the onion until soft, about 15-20 minutes. Add the rice and, off the heat, stir until the rice becomes totally coated, this only takes a minute. Return to the heat, and add enough hot stock to just cover the rice, about 2 ladlefuls. Simmer, stirring, until the rice has absorbed nearly all of the liquid. Continue to add more stock as each previous addition is absorbed. After about 15-20 minutes, nearly all the stock will have been absorbed by the rice; each grain will have a creamy coating, but will remain al dente.

Add the remaining butter in small pieces, the pumpkin, vermouth and Parmesan. Be careful not to overstir so the pumpkin doesn’t break up. Serve immediately. Leftovers can be kept in fridge and reheat fairly well.