Cook’s Recipe: Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Soup

from proteinpower.com    

A perfect starter for any meal, this soup has become a staple during Thanksgiving dinner in my family. It is so good it has actually replaced pasta as our first course on Thanksgiving (Italian family…don’t ask). Anytime a dish replaces pasta in an Italian household, you know you have something special. The ingredients and directions are incredibly simple, but the soup is anything but. Butternut squash and sweet potato were made for each other and anyone who claims to not like either of these vegetables will certainly be singing a different tune after a bowl of this on a cold November day (I certainly was the first time I had it). It’s simplicity means that it can be made either last minute or a day or two before and isn’t confined merely to turkey day. The soup freezes extremely well so you can make large batches when the butternut squash is more in season and save them for the future. The original recipe this was adapted from called for fresh ginger, added along with the onion, which definitely changes the flavor of the dish, but which I decided overpowered the other vegetables a bit too much.    

   
Ingredients:
3.5 cups of chicken stock
3 tbsp butter
1 medium onion
1 large butternut squash
1 sweet potato
Salt and pepper to taste
 
Equipment:
Immersion Blender*
 
  
Instructions:    
  1. Preheat your oven to 350.
  2. Take the butternut squash and split it in half the long way. Scoop out any seeds. Place them flesh side down on a greased baking sheet (brush with veggie oil/spray). Do the same with the sweet potato.
  3. Place them in the oven for 35 min, or until both the sweet potato and the squash are really soft. The sweet potato often takes longer, so take out the squash as needed.
  4. Remove them from the oven and let them to cool almost completely. Then scoop out the flesh from the butternut squash and place it in a bowl. Do the same for the sweet potato but keep the two separate.
    from epicurious.com

    "Not as clumsy or random as a blender; an elegant appliance for a more civilized age."

     

  5. While waiting for the veggies to cool, in a large pot, melt the butter and sweat the onion. Next add three cups of the chicken stock and raise the heat up (medium/medium high).
  6. Add in the squash and mix everything together. Here is where separating the squash and potato comes in handy. Generally I use about half a sweet potato per batch, but sometimes I add in a little more or less depending on how it comes out. So, keeping it separate lets you control the flavors a bit more. 
  7. Using an immersion blender (handheld stick blender), smooth out the mixture to your liking, adding as much sweet potato as you prefer. Additionally, add in as much of the remaining half-cup of chicken stock as needed to reach the desired thickness.  If you don’t own an immersion blender, transfer everything to a regular blender then back to the pot. You want to create a smooth consistency and get out as many of the lumps as possible (though personally I don’t mind the extra texture).
  8. Let the soup come to a boil, stirring frequently, then lower and let simmer for about fifteen minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and cinnamon sprinkled on top.

The recipe will serve five people as a starter, or can serve up to three people for a main course (depending your portion sizes). For multiple batches, it is best to not simply double the ingredients as this allows you to control the flavor of the sweet potato better. This recipe can easily be made the night before and refrigerated. Simply take the soup out of the fridge and slowly reheat it back to near boiling before service.    

*An immersion blender is a handheld “stick” blender that can be used to blend and puree ingredients in the same vessel that it cooks in, without the need for transferring mixtures in and out. They are available at virtually any store that sells kitchen appliances and can be purchased for as little as $25. While not absolutely required for this recipe, it certainly makes it easier and clean-up is usually also a little less arduous.    

(photos courtesy of proteinpower.com and epicurious.com)