Butternut Squash Soup

butternut squash soup

We’re at the tail end of our Indian Summer here in Montreal. For close to a week it’s been hot and muggy, but the forecast for the weekend is cold and rainy. It’s officially time to start thinking about cold weather foods. Although I’ll miss the heat and sunshine the Summer brings, Fall foods are my favourite. Soups and stews made with harvest vegetables, shepherds pie, roasted squash; all of these are warm and comforting to me. I could go on for hours about Fall baking, but for now I’ll just keep it to these two words: pumpkin pie.

We had a little preview of the cold weather a couple of weeks ago, so I took the opportunity to get a head start on the fall cooking and made this Roasted Squash Soup. This is possibly the easiest dish I’ve ever made, if you’re new to cooking this is a great recipe to make you feel like you can do it. Simply roast the squash, onion and garlic until the squash is cooked, then transfer it all to a pot adding chicken broth and spices. Easy peasy!

Roasting the squash, onions and garlic add a sweet, caramelized, dimension to the flavour of the soup. I made it quite thick because I like it that way, but if you prefer a thinner soup simply add more broth. I also use a touch of cream to add .. creaminess to the soup (there must be another word for that, richness maybe?), but that can be omitted if you’d prefer to keep the dairy out.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 head of garlic
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 litre low sodium chicken broth
  • 4-5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • ½ tsp ground sage
  • Salt a pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup cream or half and half
  • Sunflower seeds and chives to garnish
    1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
    2. While the oven is heating, slice the squash in half and scoop out the seeds with a spoon (you’ll need a good knife to slice the squash). Peel the onion and slice it in half. Place on a baking sheet season with salt and pepper then drizzle with most of the olive oil. Slice the top off the garlic head then place it on a small piece of foil. Drizzle with the remaining oil, wrap in the foil and place on the baking sheet. Roast for 45 to 50 minutes until the squash is soft (poke it with a fork to test)
    3. Let the squash cool slightly, then scoop out the flesh into a medium pot along with the onion. Unwrap the garlic and squeeze it into the pot (the cloves should slide right out). Add the chicken broth, thyme, sage, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil then simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let the soup cool then puree in a blender or with an immersion blender.
    4. Stir in the cream and serve garnished with sunflower seeds and chopped chives.

Enjoy!

Guest Post: Pasta and Vegetables Soup Recipe

The final guest post in the “Help Lynn Move” series is from Radhika of Just Home Made. Radhika’s blog is beautiful, with amazing photography and wonderful recipes. What I love about it is the uniquness of the recipes, like these Saffron and Cardamom flavored Sweet Semolina Balls . I was very excited to see what she would come up with for the guest post, and I was not disapointed. I hope you enjoy this post as much as I did, and please take the time to check out her site!

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You know how casual random acts can lead to nice things? For instance, casual browsing onFoodgawker brought me to pause at  these Egyptian Date Crescents that I instantly fell in love with for, I hardly find eggless pastry based desserts that easily. This blog hopping then led to twitter connection.

In the words of Penny de Los Santos whose workshop I recently attended and have been catching myself quoting only her quotes ever since, “Facebook is for those you already know and twitter is for those who you want to know“. Well said.

What are tweets meant for? And that is how I got to know Lynn (@LynnLawandi on twitter) was looking out for someone to guest post while she is moving in and out of condos. Happy to help I was and so was Lynn and that is how this special post has come alive. Lynn has quite a few egg-less desserts like Good old-fashioned Apple Pie, Pear Caramel Ice cream, Plum TarteTatin to name a few.

Over the years, reasons might have changed, but Summer has remained very dear to me. During the pre-teen years, summer was all about a precious vacation with my parents, the only solid three-month long time I would get to spend with them during the entire year. Summers those days were carefree, irrespective of how scorching the sun decided to be. Strolling through mango and guava orchards occasionally helping myself to a few, in a small village in a remote corner of the Karnataka map then seemed like the best way to spend the afternoons. Those were the good old days.

Golden memories are seldom remade. But we sure can create new ones so they turn golden as the years roll. Amidst such teeny whims and fancies this year among all others, summer is special to me for reasons green. My interest in gardening peaked out of the blue off late and the balcony container garden that I expanded during early spring of this year has started showing prolific results. I’m excited more than I can word(ex)press about growing my own herbs – parsley flat and curled, chives, thyme or mint. A realization however late it might seem is yet so true – there’s no greater satisfaction than growing your own silly garden.

The best produce is one that we harvest from our own gardens tended with our very own hands. No supermarket produce stands tall in front of it.

So, now when I want some of the herbs that I normally don’t frequently use but still need occasionally, all I have to do is step out of the door wide open to the balcony and feel the joy abound.

Similar is the joy of cooking with farmer’s market fresh vegetables.

Given the fresh vegetables and herbs, I couldn’t miss thinking about making a hearty pasta and vegetable soup. Since the day I accidentally made this once, I must’ve made it umpteen times and yet never really came to think of sharing with you.

So, it felt like the right time to introduce this recipe to you through this guest post for Lynn.

Of the first few times I made this soup without any pasta, we were left wanting for something more to it. Adding pasta, especially a tricolored one makes the soup filling on one hand and complements the vibrant colors of the vegetables on the other. Conchas (pasta shells) are one of my favorites and the tiny floral variant is loved by my little one.

This soup is as simple as can be. Few simple ingredients and straightforward procedure. There’s not much required of you, all that needs to be done, the hot stove will do for you.

Just as it looks, the soup is light and healthy yet hearty brimming with the fresh flavor of vegetables, garlic and parsley.

Now tell me, what is your favorite soup?

Pasta and Vegetables Soup Recipe

Printable Recipe

Things you’ll need:

  • 1/2 -3/4 cup pasta of your choice (i used tricolor shells and flower shaped macaroni pasta)
  • 2 slender zucchini, sliced to 1/4″ rounds
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4″ rounds (I used rainbow variety)
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 small white onion, chopped
  • 2-3 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried or few sprigs fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • sea salt
  • ground pepper
  • water

How it’s done:

Chop the carrots into oblong slices. If the celery stalk is broader towards the end, slit it by running your knife through the center and then chop.

Heat olive oil in a medium sized pot over medium heat. When the oil is hot enough or begins to shimmer, add minced garlic and sauté for a bit, followed by dried parsley if using, chopped onion and celery and sauté until onion and celery appear translucent. Add the remaining chopped vegetables, salt and ground pepper and give it a good stir. Add enough and more water to cover vegetables well and bring to a boil.

Now add the pasta and simmer covered for 10-12 mins until vegetables and pasta are cooked al-denté. Adjust the seasoning for taste and garnish with chopped fresh parsley, if using.

Serve hot with whole wheat crackers or toast on the side.

Note: The tiny floral pasta is usually available in the international foods section of any grocery store

Roasted White Vegetable Soup

I haven’t been able to find the time to write more than one blog post a week lately, for that I apologize. The biggest reason for this is that I’m about to put my condo up for sale and I’ve been running around taking care of last minute things to get the place showing ready. My real estate gave me a list of things to do, she said there wasn’t that much, yet it seems to be taking all my time. I can’t imagine what having a lot to do would be like.

This weekend I removed all the caulking from my bathtub and redid it. Caulking is not as much fun as it sounds. Removing it is long and tedious work, and applying it is a lot harder than the youtube videos make it seem. Thankfully I had a nice bowl of soup waiting for me when I was done with the silicone-ey mess.

I had seen this recipe on Tartlette a year ago and it stayed in the back of my mind all this time. This weekend’s deep freeze seemed like the perfect setting for it. The soup is thick and creamy, even though there is no cream. Roasting the vegetables gives them a great almost caramelized flavour. It was a wonderfully soothing meal.

I also made the polenta croutons she recommends from Lisa’s Kitchen. I generally don’t like polenta, but a corn flavoured crunch really appealed to me. I followed the recipe and used cayenne, but I think these would also be great with rosemary or thyme. The croutons lost their crunchiness after a day, so if you make them, eat them all fast!

Roasted White Vegetable Soup

  • 1 Cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1 celery root, peeled and cut into pieces
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and cut into pieces
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • 1 L low sodium vegetable stock
  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Place the vegetables, onion and garlic on a baking sheet. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast vegetables for 40 minutes.
  3. Transfer roasted vegetables to a large soup pot. Cover with stock. Bring to a boil then simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Using an immersion blender puree soup, or allow to cool and pour into a regular blender to puree (may have to be done in batches)
  5. Serve with polenta croutons.

Enjoy!

Curried Carrot and Lentil Soup

I received a comment on my Roasted Tomato post that got me thinking. Tiffany of Como Water wrote that January is 1/12 of my life and I should find a way to enjoy it. I had never thought of it that way. To me winter has always been something I need to survive to get to the good stuff. I decided to try to figure out what it is about the winter that bothers me so much. Basically it comes down to two things; the dark and the cold. It’s pitch black when I wake up in the morning and its pitch black when I leave the office at night. The darkness is depressing and tiring. And then there’s the cold. Yuck. I’m one of those people who thinks a hot humid day is heavenly. The cold makes me, well, cold. And tense. Every time I step outside I can feel all of my muscles contracting, and they stay stuck that way all day.

So what can I do about this? My first solution is to spend some time outside and enjoy what little sunshine there is. I’m thinking walks at lunch could cover this. The second solution is to stay warm. If I’m going to enjoy my walks I need a good coat (can you say Canada Goose?).

And I need nice warm bowl of soup when I get home at night.

My first soup of the month is Curried Carrot and Lentil. It was kind of  an experiment as I had no recipe to follow, but I think for the first time a non baking experiment has worked for me. The carrots and red lentils are a great base to the soup, the curry and cayenne and some nice heat, and the coconut milk adds just the right amount of creaminess. I think it’s perfect to come home to on a cold January night.

Curried Carrot and Lentil Soup

  • coconut oil or olive oil for frying
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated (can be substituted with powder)
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
  • 3/4 cup lentils
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • plain yogurt for serving
  1. In a large soup pot, sautee the onions and carrots for 3 – 4 minutes until the onions have softened.
  2. Add the mustard seeds, curry, and ginger. Cook, stirring to keep the onion from burning, until the mustard seeds start to pop.
  3. Add the cayenne and lentils, then add the broth and coconut milk. Bring to a boil then simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Let cool, then puree with an immersion blender or blender until smooth.
  5. Serve topped with yogurt.

Enjoy!

Mmm Mmm Good Mushroom Soup

My family and I spent the long weekend in Vermont. Every year my aunt and uncle invite us to their cottage for Thanksgiving dinner. They provide us with an incredible meal, and we bring the pie.

For years my parents rented a cottage that was just a few minutes away. The area is surrounded by water and woods. My mom would often come back with chanterelle mushrooms. This year I decided to go with her, and before we new it we had a whole foraging party.

Foraging for mushrooms is sort of like looking at those pictures that look like nothing, but if you cross your eyes a certain way an image pops out at you. (Does anyone remember what those are called?) At first it seems like there is nothing there, but the next thing you know there are mushrooms everywhere.

Unfortunately the chanterelles were not in abundance. We weren’t able to identify any of the mushrooms we did find, so nothing was kept. Mushrooms are not something to take chances with. Despite not finding anything useful, I still had a great time walking in the woods. I haven’t spent that much time in there since I was a kid.

I had hoped to find enough mushrooms to make a soup. Obviously that didn’t happen, so when I got back to Montreal I made my way to Atwater Market and picked up some chanterelles and criminis. It wasn’t quite the same as picking them myself but it was still delicious.

I used a recipe from Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything. One of the good things about not having a computer for a couple of days was that it reminded me I actually own cookbooks.

Cream of Mushroom Soup

  • 2 ounces dried chanterelle mushrooms (optional)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 pound fresh mushrooms ( I used crimini and chanterelle), cleaned, trimmed and sliced (reserve a few slices for garnishing)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp minced shallots
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3 cups stock
  • 1 cup cream (you can use heave cream or half and half)
  • Chives for garnish
  1. If using dried mushrooms, rehydrate them by covering them with hot water and soaking them for 15 minutes.
  2. Place the butter in a large deep saucepan on medium heat. Once the butter has melted add the mushrooms and increase the heat the medium high. Cook for about 10 minutes until the mushrooms start to brown. Drain the now soaked mushrooms (keep the liquid) and add them to the cooked mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Add the shallots and garlic and cook for one minute. Add the stock and reserved soaking liquid. Bring the mixture to a boil. Turn off the heat.
  4. Stir in cream. Garnish with chives and mushroom slices.

Enjoy!

Pear and Butternut Squash Soup

September is a weird month for me. It makes me hope the summer will go on a little longer, but at the same time it has me craving fall foods likes soups and stews. The cooler weather over the last couple of days made it a great time to make a soup. I still had a few pears so I decided to adapt Martha Stewarts Pear and Autumn Vegetable Soup, from the Oct 2006 issue.

I loved the idea of adding pear to the vegetable soup, but I was a little surprised that Martha called for water instead of broth. I also thought the soup could use a little more flavour so I added some sautéed onion as well. The soup is wonderfully satisfying and warming on a cold rainy day. There are a lot of steps in the recipe so it’s a little time-consuming, although most of it is unattended. You can skip the pear garnish and replace with pumpkin seeds, but it does make the soup very pretty. You can also skip roasting the squash and just peel and dice the squash instead.

Pear and Butternut Squash Soup

  • 5 medium pears
  • 1 butternut squash
  • olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 L low sodium chicken broth (or homemade)
  • 1/2 tsp sage
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream
  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Slice one pear very thinly, using a mandoline.  Place slices on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake for 1 hour till slices are dry. Set aside.
  2. Heat oven to 400. Slice the butternut squash in half, scoop out the seeds. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 1 hour. Once done, scoop the squash out of the skin.
  3. Peel and core the remaining pears. Cut them into large chucks.
  4. In a soup pot, saute the onions until translucent. Add the pears, squash, and broth. Bring to a boil, season with sage, salt and pepper, then lower the temperature and simmer for 45 minutes.
  5. Let the soup cool a bit, then use and immersion blender to puree. Stir in the cream.
  6. Serve soup with sliced pears as garnish.

Enjoy!

I’ll be submitting this to Cream Puffs in Venice for Magazine Mondays. Check out what everyone else has been up to!

Spicy Chickpea Tomato Soup, a Magazine Monday Production

I’ve been reading food blogs (kind of obsessively) for a while now. I’ve stumbled across (and drooled over) posts from the Daring Bakers, the Tuesdays with Dorie people, and of course Dorie herself, oh and David too. I started reading them during my first sugar-free challenge as a way to vicariously satisfy my sweet tooth. Reading the descriptions of the foods and seeing all the beautiful pictures (see Tartelette) I felt like I was actually tasting all of the wonderful creations.

After a discussion of mojito cupcakes, my baking buddy cousin sent me this link with what she called the best looking recipe she’s found. The recipe sounds delicious (and is still on my list of things to make). So I decided to check out the rest of the blog. It turns out the author is one of the founders of the Daring Bakers, and she’s also come up with something called Magazine Mondays. Magazine Mondays were created as a way to go through all those magazine recipes we’ve got bookmarked but never actually get around to making. Every monday (well in theory every monday), you pick a recipe from the pile and tell the world about it.

I think it’s a great idea, and so I’m hoping on the bandwagon.

My first Magazine Monday Recipe is from the November 2007 issue of Martha Stewart Living. The switch from hot to kinda of coolish weather last week had me craving soup, so I made one of Martha’s.

Spicy Chickpea Tomato Soup

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups chickpeas cooked (or 1 can)
  • 1 1/2 cup canned crushed tomatoes, including the juice
  • 1/2 cup drained jarred roasted peppers
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • sour cream or yogurt for serving
  • chives or parsley for garnish

Directions

  1. In a food processor pulse garlic, chili, coriander and salt into a paste.
  2. Heat oil in a medium-sized pot and add garlic paste. Cook until softened.
  3. Add chickpeas, tomatoes, peppers and broth. Simmer for 15 minutes. Let cool slightly
  4. Using an immersion blender puree soup.
  5. Serve with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream and garnish with chives or parley.

I omitted the caraway seeds Martha calls for just because I don’t have any.

And I used chives from my “garden”.

They came back all by themselves this spring! (I took the picture at night to hide the horrible view from my balcony, I need to move!)

This is a very quick and easy soup. I actually found it tasted better the next day, the flavours seemed to have blended together a little more, probably because of the short cooking time. The peppers give the soup a little something extra, a very nice touch. The only issue I had was with the texture, maybe I didn’t puree it enough but I found the soup a little clumpy. I would definitely make this again.

Enjoy!