I’ve had a love-hate relationship with squash most of my life. Mostly hate. A couple of bad squash experiences in my youth made me sure I would dislike it for eternity. But then, at a wonderful restaurant in Missouri, I ate butternut squash soup that changed my mind completely. Velvety, flavorful, with just a touch of sweetness and cream. I was in love. With a squash. It was short-lived, since I ate it. But it lived on in my memory.
Since that fateful day, I’ve eaten butternut squash several times, with varying degrees of success. Until now, I’ve never actually cooked one. I hadn’t really thought about it. But then the other day I found the cutest squash at the store and I just wanted to bring him home. So I did. Then I went in search of something to do with him. As it turned out for the recipe I found I needed a friend for my first little guy.
As fate would have it (their fate – not mine so much) I also bought a new kitchen toy for myself this week that I was just itching to break in.
Oh yes! Squash meets stick blender. But that comes later. First I had to wrestle these two squashes into submission, which was admittedly not as easy as I expected. Note to self: buy better vegetable peeler. But I did get them peeled, seeded and chopped eventually. Afterward, I read the note at the end of the recipe saying you can actually buy it already peeled and cut up. But where’s the fun in that, huh?
This soup was terrific. Uniquely spiced with a hint of jalapeno and ginger, it was velvety in texture, with just the right amount of sweetness and spice. Wondering if your kids will eat it? Claire (age 11) was a bit trepidatious at first. But she was a convert after the first bite, ate two big bowls, and requested the leftovers for breakfast. It probably didn’t hurt that she got to help me blend it up. She also discovered love for a new ingredient – creme fraiche. Luke (16) loved it too, but there’s not much in the food world that doesn’t make him happy.
Jalapeno-Ginger Butternut Squash Soup
(found on myrecipes.com)
2 tbsp. olive oil
6 gloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsp. grated fresh ginger
1 jalapeno chile, seeded and chopped
1 tbsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne
4 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cut into 2 inch cubes
3 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
3 cups water
1 tbsp. brown sugar
3 tbsp. heavy whipping cream
Creme fraîche (optional)
Heat olive oil in large pot over med-high heat. Add garlic, ginger, jalapeno, and salt. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant but not yet browned, 1-2 minutes. Add cayenne and cook for 30 seconds. Add squash, broth, brown sugar and 3 cups water. Bring to a boil, lower heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until squash is tender, about 20 minutes. In a blender, puree the soup in batches until smooth and return to pot (or use a stick blender in the pot until it’s all smooth). Stir in cream and adjust seasonings if needed. Serve hot, with a swirl of creme fraîche if desired.
Makes 6-8 servings (169 calories per serving)