Friday, September 30, 2011

Butternut Squash Soup with Apples and Ginger


      One of my reasons for creating this blog is to encourage people to share meals together with friends and family.  The meals don’t need to be gourmet, the setting does not need to be fancy and unplanned, spur of the moment gatherings can be a rejuvenating oasis in our busy lives. It is all about letting people know that you care about them and want to share life together. Too often we get stuck in a rut of just doing what we have to do – work, school, getting to various activities and we forget how wonderful it is just to relax together with friends and talk about whatever comes to mind. No agenda, no expectations and rules, just the joy of hanging out with people who make you smile. It is so refreshing!

       Yesterday, I found out a friend was in town for the day. He was staying with another friend of mine and I wanted to get together with them both. These two guys are both awesome people who see beyond boundaries and go for what they dream. Between the two they have traveled the world, been a wilderness guide, hiked, climbed and snowboarded all over the backcountry, ran an organic farm and made some incredible pottery… and they are still in their early 20’s!  Yet they make me feel welcomed spending time with them.

      Yes, I really wanted to see them but my life felt pretty busy-I had to babysit my two favorite little guys for several hours, get the house cleaned up for out of town guests arriving this week and prepare for a large wedding I am helping to plan and cook for this weekend, but I knew what was really important so I found some time for lunch.

Come play with us!
      That was so good, we decided we should all meet up for dinner. I wanted to get a head start on cooking since my friends had a busy afternoon of hiking and school work. What could I whip together in an hour or so while still enjoying some play time with the 3 and 5 year old boys that I babysit?

  I had spotted a spaghetti squash on my friends counter so we could cook that up at their house with some bacon later. I also had a butternut squash reclining on my counter so I decided to make one of my signature soups. I have been developing this recipe for Butternut squash soup with apple and spice for years. It is always a hit. I had some nice, fresh ginger root so I decided to give this batch a gingery snap…it worked great with the butternut and apple! With the addition of ginger, I decided to skip the tomato paste and milk/coconut milk. It was perfect.

Note the beautiful bowl!
      I will give you the recipe in just a moment but I want to share that it is so fun to have a meal together in such a laid back way. We all stood around the kitchen cooking together and then drinking soup out of beautiful clay bowls one of them had made. Then, after cleaning up, we just hung out and had some meandering conversation and fun.

      These guys just know how to enjoy life, getting the most out of every moment. Their lives are full of crazy adventures and challenges.  My life is full of a million things I do for the people I love. But we all took some time out just to catch up with one another and it was very, very good J Try it! Have a meal with friends you don’t get to see enough. Don’t plan anything elaborate, just get together and decide what to you have on hand to cook and do something fun you don’t usually take time to do. It is the spice of life.

Butternut Squash Soup with Apples, Ginger and Spice

Serving Size  8- 10   

   1      large  butternut squash -- about 4 cups or so prepared,

   1   Tablespoons   Butter

   1    Tablespoon    light olive oil

¾  cup onion, minced - optional

  2    Granny smith apples, peeled and grated or finely diced

About 1 ½ inches of fresh ginger, peeled and grated ( or use bottled 2-3 tsp)

Spice - 

For curry flavor: 1 ½  tsp. mild curry powder, 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice, dash of ginger, red pepper flake, grated nutmeg

For Fall spice use 1 tsp. pumpkin spice, 1 tsp. cinnamon, dash of ginger, nutmeg, red pepper

 3-4  cups  vegetable (or chicken) broth

 1 cup  apple juice, optional for more apple flavor.

   1      TBSP    brown sugar,  optional

   1  tsp   salt and pepper

  2 -3     tablespoon    tomato paste, about ½ a can, optional
  water,up to a cup but only if needed to thin it out some-add a bit at a time

½ cup apple sauce, if desired for flavor and consistency

   ½ -1  cup  evaporated skim milk , milk, coconut milk or ½  cup cream, OPTIONAL  if desired for creamier soup

Wash squash, cut in halves (or quarters.) Use large chopping knife & BE CAREFUL. (If desired, squash can be peeled first) Discard strings and seeds ( or save for roasting) .Then choose oven or microwave.
OVEN: You may roast on 375 for ABOUT 45 minutes in foil lined pan Add a little water or apple juice. You may sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon and brown sugar. Don’t cook till crusty, just until very soft. For soup I like to roast cut side down, covered with foil.  Or roast it cut side just for 1st half of cooking then flip cut side up, check and add butter if it gets dry. Check at 35 minutes. Cook till very soft. Once cool you may scoop, dice or mash before adding to pan.
You may also peel and dice squash before roasting, toss with butter, spice and bit of liquid. Cover for first half of roasting. Uncover and stir. Check after 25 minutes, It cooks faster cubed.

OR MICROWAVE: you can quarter the butternut and place in microwave safe dish, add water or juice, cover and microwave until soft, about 18-25 Minutes. I would do this early in day or even the night before if you have time. Cool, then scoop pulp from peel. Dice, mash or puree in blender. Or also may peel& dice first and cover. Stir half way during microwaving.

In large pot, dutch oven or stock pot, heat butter and olive oil. On low heat, slowly cook onions until beginning to brown. Add apples and cook until soft- about 3 minutes. Add curry or other spices and cook 1 minute. Add finely diced or mashed squash. Mix in broth, and if using- sugar,apple juice, apple sauce or tomato paste. As it cooks, add a bit of water if needed. Cook about 30 minutes until soft-add more water if necessary.Smooth with an emulsion or hand held blender after removing from heat for a few minutes but you can just mash pieces if any remain. For a silkier texture, cool and place small batches in blender or food processor. Do NOToverfill blender or you may have explosive reaction. Best to hold top down with towel and do not open immediately. For creamier soup, reheat after blending and add cream or evap. skim milk or coconut milk.

If you don’t want to roast squash, it is okay to dice and cook entirely on the stove, just add with onions to carmelize a bit and add extra  simmer time.
Recipe By Denise Birdsall   

Yoga on the balance board..is there nothing he can't do?

                                                                            
Very talented!
Think you don't have room for aquaponics? Build it in
the bedroom! There are tilapia in the bottom tank :-)
Sometimes it is harder to keep your balance
when other people are involved :-)

7 comments:

  1. Squash, apples and ginger, what an amazing combination. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. This soup sounds truly wonderful! :) Have a great day. What sweet little boys - takes me back.

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  3. Sounds like an amazing day with truly inspirational people!

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  4. Looks like a fun day!! This soup sounds great!

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  5. Sounds so incredible with the ginger and apples added. I love butternut squash. Well-done! :-)

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  6. What a great Fall recipe, this sounds delicious! :)

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  7. I love this soup. It's nice to add ginger and apples...I have to try making it myself to taste it. Sounds fabulous! Haha you have nice entertainers there.

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