Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Butternut Squash Soup

You might be wondering why I decided to make two types of butternut squash soup today.  Well, I told you why I made the Butternut Squash, Swiss Chard and Bacon Soup earlier today.  I made another style of butternut squash soup because the butternut squash that I bought at the grocery store yesterday was almost 5 pounds!  I have never seen a butternut squash that big. I was compelled to use it all, so I figured another type of soup would be the best way to do that.  This butternut squash soup is creamier and smoother than the other soup.  Sadly, I did not have any heavy cream in the house today (I "forgot" to buy it) so I used a substitute that I found on about.com.  I will post it for you just in case you start making this soup without any heavy cream in the house.  I am not in the habit of buying heavy cream because I rarely use the stuff.  This substitute is a great idea for people like me who have an aversion to using heavy cream.  I didn't make any additional changes to this recipe.  I found the recipe on another food blog called Sweet Pea's Kitchen.

Butternut Squash Soup
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes | Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large shallot, chopped fine
1 large butternut squash (about 3 pounds), cut in half length-wise, and each half cut in half width-wise; seeds and strings scraped out and reserved (about ¼ cup)
6 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
Pinch of ground nutmeg

1. Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven (or heavy pot) over medium-low heat until foaming. Add the shallot and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the squash scrapings and seeds, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the butter turns saffron color, about 4 minutes.

2. Add the water and 1 teaspoon salt to the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, place the squash cut-side down in a steamer basket, and lower the basket into the pot. Cover and steam until the squash is completely tender, about 30 minutes. take the pot off the heat, and use tongs to transfer the squash to a rimmed baking sheet. When cool enough to handle, use a large spoon to scrape the flesh from the skin. Reserve the squash flesh in a bowl and discard the skins.

3. Strain the steaming liquid through a mesh strainer into a second bowl; discard the solids in the strainer. (You should have 2½ to 3 cups of liquid.) Rise and dry the pot.

4. Puree the squash in batches in a blender or food processor, pulsing and adding enough reserved steaming liquid to obtain a smooth consistency. Transfer the puree to the pot and stir in the remaining steaming liquid, cream, and brown sugar. Warm the soup over medium-low heat until hot, about 3 minutes. Stir in the nutmeg and adjust the seasonings, adding salt to taste. Serve immediately. Soup can be refrigerated in an airtight container for several days. Warm over low heat until hot; do not boil.

(Recipe adapted from The Best Soups & Stews by America’s Test Kitchen)  

Heavy Cream Substitute
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Makes 1 cup 


3/4 cup milk 
1/3 cup butter


1.  Melt the butter.
2.  Pour it into the milk and stir.
3.  Use in place of one cup of heavy cream.

Note:  This substitute will not whip.

Tip:  If you use low-fat milk, add a tablespoon of flour to the mixture to thicken.


The Creative Cook

Butternut Squash Soup with Swiss Chard & Bacon

I have to tell you that I ate the best dinner last Saturday night at Monocacy Crossing in Frederick, Maryland.  My husband took me and my son out to celebrate my birthday.  I had the Pork Tenderloin with Sage-Cider Sauce and Scalloped Potatoes, my son had the Crispy Buttermilk Chicken Breast with Tasso Ham Gravy and my husband had the Herb Topped Salmon over Warm Potato Salad with Bacon and Horseradish.  We all swooned over our meals but for me the best part was my soup.  It was a Butternut Squash Soup with Swiss Chard and Bacon.  I left there with a strong desire to make that soup at home.  I did just that this morning. I started with a recipe for Brodo (Broth) with Butternut Squash, Swiss Chard and Bacon by Betty Rosbottom that I found on a website.  I knew that the recipe needed some changes to satisfy my needs.  I added some skim milk and left out the pasta that the original recipe called for.  I also needed to add a tablespoon of flour to thicken up the soup a bit.  We have not tried the soup yet but it smells heavenly.  This is my version of Monocacy Crossing's delicious soup.

Butternut Squash Soup with Swiss Chard & Bacon
Makes 6 Servings
Prep time:  30 to 40 minutes

Make ahead:  Homemade or store-bought chicken stock

1-1/2 - 1-3/4 lb. (750 g to 875 g) butternut squash
1 bunch (about 12 oz. / 375 g.) Swiss chard, preferably with dark green leaves and red stalks
6 slices bacon, cut into 1/2 inch (1.25 cm.) pieces
1-1/3 cups (340 ml) onion, chopped
8 cups (2 liters) homemade or store-bought chicken stock
1 cup skim milk (or 3/4 cup heavy cream)
1 tablespoon flour (if using skim milk)
salt to taste
1 to 2 pinches cayenne pepper
1/2 cup (125 ml) Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano, coarsely grated

Using a large sharp knife, halve the squash lengthwise, scoop out and discard the seeds and membranes.  Cut each half lengthwise into 4 segments.  Using a vegetable peeler or small sharp knife, peel the segments and then cut them into 3/4 inch (2-cm) cubes.  Set aside.

Rinse the chard and pat dry.  Cut off and discard the stalks.  If the ribs on the leaves are more than a 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) thick, cut them out and discard.  Coarsely chop the chard to yield about 4 loosely packed cups (1 liter).

In a large pot set over medium high heat, saute the bacon pieces until they are golden brown and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon and drain on paper towels.  Pour out all but 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of the bacon drippings and return the pot to medium heat.  When hot, add the onions and saute, stirring until golden brown, 3 minutes.

Add the stock and bring to a simmer.  Add the squash and cook until tender, 12 to 15 minutes.  Once the squash is cooked, use an immersion blender or put soup carefully in a blender.  After blending, add the milk or cream and the flour.  Cook the soup another 5 minutes but do not boil.  If the flour gets lumpy just use the immersion blender to remove the lumps or put the soup back into the blender for a minute or two.  Pour soup back into the pot (if using a blender) then add the chard and cook until it wilts, for 1 to 2 minutes more.  Taste and season with salt and cayenne pepper.

To serve, ladle soup into 6 shallow bowls.  Pass around the bacon pieces and grated cheese separately in bowls.


The Creative Cook