Friday, September 24, 2010

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

In anticipation of Fall, I wanted to get a head start and make one of my favorite fall soups; Butternut Squash. I made this once before a couple years ago, and very much enjoyed it. I decided to give it another whirl but give it a different dimension by adding some spicy elements to it. This recipe is also out of my favorite cookbook The New Best Recipe. If you don't have this cookbook in your arsenal I recommend you get it ASAP!

4 TBSP unsalted butter
1 large shallot, chopped fine
3 pounds butternut squash (reserve strings and seeds)
6 cups water
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp dark brown sugar
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg

4 tbsp plain yogurt
2 tbsp fresh cilantro leaves
1 tsp lime juice
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp curried powder

First I prepared the squash by taking a sharp knife and slicing the squash down the middle. If you have a crappy knife you may need to use a cleaver to knock the knife into the squash so it splits it down the middle. The cookbook has a picture on how to do this. Scrape out the strings and seeds with a spoon and set aside (DO NOT THROW AWAY). Next, chop up the squash into chunks. Now, get a large stockpot or Dutch oven and melt the butter over medium-low heat until it foams. You are supposed to add the shallots next. I didn't have a shallot so I just used a white onion cut in half and then chopped. Stir frequently for about 3 minutes until the onions are translucent. Add the strings and seeds from the squash and cook until the butter turns a saffron color. It took about 5 minutes for this to happen. You are supposed to add the water and a tsp of salt next. I used about 5 cups chicken broth that I had in my freezer and a cup of water. Bring to a boil. If you haven't already, add the squash into a steamer basket and place the basket into the pot. It says to cover and let steam for about 30 minutes. This actually took me about an hour probably because I forgot to cover the lid after a half hour. You have to poke the squash with a fork to determine if it's tender. And, once it is remove the steamer basket from the pot, and let the squash cool. Then, when it's cool enough to handle careful remove the skin from the squash and place in a bowl. Discard the skin. Then, strain the liquid from the pot thru a mesh strainer. Discard the onion, seeds, and strings. It says there should be about 2 1/2 to 3 cups of liquid. I'm pretty sure I had more than that. Don't ask me how. Rinse and dry the pot. Next step is to take the 2 tsp of curried powder and add the squash and a little bit of the liquid into a blender and puree in batches. Be sure to add a towel over the lid of the blender so the liquid doesn't explode into your face. Transfer the puree as you go into the clean pot and stir in the remaining liquid, the heavy cream, and the brown sugar. I didn't have dark brown sugar, so I just used light brown sugar. I also didn't have whole nutmegs, so I just used about a tsp of ground nutmeg. Warm the soup, and adjust the seasonings.
At this point you need to mix together in a small bowl the yogurt, cilantro leaves (which I left out, because I didn't have any), lime juice, and salt. Refridgerate until ready to serve. Add a dollop of the mixture to each of the individual bowls you are serving. I just dumped the mixture into the pot of soup since it was just me I was serving. Enjoy!

(Click here for printable recipe)

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