Sunday, January 31, 2010

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

Hello from icy Midtown! To all the good folks in Florida, who know I never learned to parallel park OR drive in frigid conditions, rest assured, I am staying in, staying dry, and staying warm. I did venture a few steps from my house yesterday to capture the prettiness, but today the forecast is for nothing but cups of coffee, more soup, and some research.

Iced-over thyme plant.

Iced-over back yard.

Iced-over ornamental ducks (geese?).

Now onward! To the main event. Yeah, I know, I've made a curried squash soup before. But you know what they say. New year, new squash. At least, I am fairly certain they say that. Anyway, every fall I like to buy a variety of squashes from the farmers market and use them to decorate the house... then slowly, one by one, let the axe fall.

This recipe was much simpler than last year's, and I liked it just as well.

Curried Butternut Squash Soup
Adapted From Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook

1 butternut squash that will fit in your slow cooker (mine came from Windemere Farms) (you could also use other winter squashes like pumpkins, delicatas, buttercup, etc!)
2 tablespoons water
1 large yellow onion
1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil or unsalted butter
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 teaspoon curry powder (alternatively, light brown sugar and omit the curry)
Salt and pepper
(I also added a sprinkling of ginger powder)

Wash and dry the squash and place it in the slow cooker. Add the 2 tablespoons of water. Cover and cook on LOW until the squash is tender, 7 to 9 hours. This is perfect for an all-day-at-work-or-school schedule! When the squash is done, a wooden skewer or a paring knife will pierce it easily and slip through to the center. If the squash is not done, replace the cover and continue to cook on LOW, checking every 30 minutes. Allow the cooked squash to cool. Do not discard any liquid in the slow cooker.

While the squash is cooking, peel and chop the onion. In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

Slice the squash in half lengthwise. From its time in the sauna, it should be a pleasure to slice. Use a soup spoon to scrape out the seeds and strings.

The cookbook says to discard the seeds, but why? I like to wash them in a mesh skimmer, dry them between paper towels, and when I have enough, I make trail mix with roasted squash seeds, chocolate chips, nuts, rosemary and sea salt.

Scoop out the cooked flesh and discard the shell. In a blender or food processor, puree half the squash with half the onion and about 2 cups of the broth. Pour the puree into the slow cooker and stir to dissolve any caramelized squash juices that have stuck to the bottom. Puree the remaining squash and onion with the remaining 2 cups of broth and add to the cooker.

Add the curry/ginger or brown sugar and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook on HIGH until the soup is hot, about 1 hour.

Serve the soup hot, topped with some sour cream, yogurt, creme fraiche, some toasted pumpkin seeds, etc. I made some quick croutons with cubed Cafe Eclectic sourdough bread.

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