"Comfort Me with..." Butternut Squash Soup

A lot of my food entries evoke good family memories, as well they should! But, recently, trying to "lighten up" my diet from the holidays plus wanting to get back to eating healthier PERIOD, I pulled out my recipe for Butternut Squash Soup.

But, I shouldn't say it is my recipe, nor is it a family secret recipe. Rather it comes from the LA Times. But, everytime I make it, everytime I pull the recipe out, I am reminded of my grandmother, Bevey.

A few years back, my sister, Meag, and I made it a point to have dinner once every two weeks and play an addicting card game called Shanghai with Bevey and Dickie (see my entry http://fiveoclockfood.blogspot.com/2009/08/margarita-por-favor-but-hold-that-mix.html for more info about Dickie). It was great for all of us, but so amazingly important and special to spend quality time with our grandparents doing two things we loved to enjoy together: card games and eating.

Bevey is an amazing cook (as is my other grandmother, Gigi), and I will be posting more recipes and stories about her in the future. She is famous for many things, including her infamous Posole, World's Best Cookies, and her addictive pickles (to which I have the guarded recipes to all, and I am not about to give out...yet...). And, with anything she cooks, we were thrilled to have another one of her dishes.

When we first took a slurp of this soup, Meag and I took one look at each other, directed our gazes to Bevey, and both proclaimed that this was one of the best soups we had ever had. I can still hear Bevey saying, "Oh, stop it...", half joking and, I know, half flattered. See, Meag, my Mom, and I have a tendency to say "this is the best..." whenever we are eating something. But, I can honestly say, this recipe is fantastically delicious, and healthy.

So, here is the recipe.
  • 1/2 stick (2oz) butter
  • 2 medium leeks, washed and white parts only used/roughly chopped (can sub 2 med to large onions)
  • 3 stalks celery, roughly chopped
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 (1-inch) piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tsp (teaspoon) dried thyme (the fresher the better, not one that has been sitting on your spice shelf for YEARS) or leaves from 10 fresh thyme sprigs, removed from wooden stem
  • 1 medium butternut squash (about 2 lb) peeled, seeded and cut into rough cubes (can use precut squash, just make sure it is about 2 lb)
  • 4C chicken, turkey, or vegetable stock (preferrably homemade)
  • 1/2 C heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper (preferrably sea salt and fresh ground pepper, white or black)
  • creme fraiche and toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) as garnish
  • NEEDED: blender or imersion blender


Of course there is wine being consumed! And, pardon the garlic, it wasn't used.



I never throw any pics of me in here, so I figured I would while I was chopping up all the veggies.



First I melt the butter in a large stock pot




After the butter is melted, add all of the chopped veggies (onion or leek, celery, carrot, ginger, and thyme



Sweat the vegetables (heat on medium low) until slightly soft; the point is to sweat the veg over lower heat to not add any color. Make sure to season with salt and pepper as you go.


Add the choppped butternut squash to the pot, and stir around as well.



Add stock to pot, bring to a boil, and reduce to a rolling simmer to cook the vegetables.



 

After about 30 minutes of simmering, check to see if squash fork tender. If it is, you are almost done!

Either in batches with a blender or using an immersion blender, blend soup until completely smooth. Add cream and season with salt and pepper again.

This soup can be eaten immediately, but I truly think that it is better the next day, and the following, and the following. As with all soups, they are most often enjoyed more the following day by letting all of the flavors "marry".

I like to garnish my soup with some creme fraiche or sour cream and some toasted pepitas.



I have made this soup plenty of times in the last few years and have also received comments such as "this is the best soup...". It's creamy, full of vitamins, fiber and minerals, and the 1/2 cup of heavy cream really isn't going to hurt your waistline but rather enhances the flavors of this fantastic soup. It will warm you to the bone, and, as it does for me, takes me back to enjoying the simple pleasures of spending time with loved ones. Thanks, Bevey, for evoking great memories of our dinners.

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