Monday, 23 April 2012

Oh the weather outside is frightful ... but the soup-pot is sooooo delightful ...

It's April 23rd.  And it's snowing.  I love Canadian weather!  Perhaps I'm still mourning the end of another ski season, but when the flakes are falling I can't help but crave soups n stews n braises.  Tonight is not a night for salads.  Nor a night for white-wine spritzers.  Not even a night for sushi.  No.  Tonight is a night to embrace the chill in the air!  Harness your inner Canadian-spirit and stoke the fire!

"Bring me my soup-pot and prepare the bowls!" I cried out like a Brigadier General.

I should probably note that I come from a long-line of soup-makers.  My great-grandmother was an army cook and this might explain why I make huge batches of food - I completely embrace "cooking for an army" as one of my kitchen philosophies.  No one will leave my table hungry (and many will leave with leftovers!).  My grandmothers soup is also legendary - and while she rarely worked from any formal written instructions, her 'throw it all in a pot' mentality was always a recipe for success.  And even my mother, despite her claims of "not being able to cook", has cranked out some of the most fantastic soups I've ever tasted.  I hope to find her meatball soup for a future posting ...

So in the spirit of this cold and sleet/snow/rainy day ... grab yourself a spoon, pull up a spot on the sofa and wrap yourself in a blanket ... if we're lucky there'll be some PVR'ed episodes of Coronation Street waiting for us on "the tele ":)  Happy slurping.

Pureed Squash and Apple Soup

You will need:
Cutting board, sharp knife, veggie peeler, roasting pan, blender or food processor, strainer/mesh seive and a soup pot.  (Also a wine glass, but that's for later ...)

  • 1 cup butternut squash, peeled and diced into one inch cubes (precision measuring not required, but aim for one inch, no one is looking if they're a bit bigger or smaller)
  • 1 cup apples (I used Macintosh apples this time 'round), peeled, cored and sliced into 'chunks' ... maybe quarters or eighths depending on the size of the apple)
  • 1 cup sweet white onion, peeled and diced (use a regular onion if you don't have a white one, the soup will still turn out juusssstttt fine!)
  • 4 TBSP butter (I used salted)
  • 1L/900ml 'box' of organic chicken stock (I often use "Imagine brand" chicken stock from a tetra pack box) - unless you've got homemade stock in your freezer, then use that - I prefer homemade as you can control the sodium but if the truth be told I'm a stock-making-junkie and cannot waste a good organic chicken carcass ... is that weird?
  • salt n pepper to taste
  • Nutmeg (one 'large'ish pinch')

  1. Preheat oven to 450.  Prepare your middle rack for your roasting pan.
  2. Put the squash, apples and onion all in a roasting pan - I'm sure you could just chuck it all in a crock pot too, but the roasted/caramalized bits are SO delish when you go the roasting route!
  3. Season everything with salt, pepper and nutmeg and then 'dot' everything with the butter ... maybe teaspoon 'drop sized' chunks of butter.  Remember, making soup does NOT require precision, and butter is always welcome in my kitchen ...
  4. Roast 'til everything is soft n mushy ... maybe an hour or so and stir everything two or three times over the course of the hour.
  5. Remove roasting pan and roasted goodies from oven. 
  6. Puree in batches in a blender or ... I've used a food processor before ... whatever works best for you ... smooth it out in whatever fashion you like!  Add some chicken stock to the blender if you need to 'thin it out'.  *Make sure you scrape all the caramalized bits off the bottom of the pan.
  7. In your soup-pot, put the puréed veggie-mix, and the chicken stock.
  8. Bring to a boil.
  9. Once it comes to a boil, turn it to simmer.
  10. I let my soup 'bubble' for another hour or so. 
  11. Strain thru a fine mesh sieve if you want it really creamy ... or leave it as is, really it's good either way ... this, THIS is the beauty of soups :)
If you're feelin' fancy, add a dollop of creme fraiche or plain yoghurt and sprinkle on some chives.  Oh, and don't forget to pour yourself a glass of wine.  Once you're snuggled on the couch you might as well make the most of it and stay put. 

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