Butternut Squash Soup

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Late last week I bought a butternut squash. It’s getting cold here in the south, and soup sounds really good pretty much all the time. Especially with some crusty bread. I haven’t had a whole lot of time to do any major cooking recently so I had to wait until the weekend to really get my cook on. And my hunny isn’t around this week so I knew I could make soup and not wonder if he was going to be full or not.

This soup was really good. I haven’t ever had butternut squash – I wasn’t even sure what it tasted like. Come to find out, it tastes like pumpkin. Which means rich spices that I would normally consider only for baking like cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg taste delicious in this soup.

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To make this soup, first chop up a small onion, a medium carrot, a stalk or two of celery, and your squash. To back it up a little bit, poke holes in the squash with a knife, and microwave for about 5 minutes on a paper towel. Then you shouldn’t have any trouble cutting it up. Oh and make sure you peel it first… This will soften the squash and make it easier to chop as well as getting a head start on the cooking process.

Melt two tablespoons of butter in a large pan, and the add all of these ingredients. Brown them up for about 3 minutes. You will know they are good to go when it smells delicious. The onions should be softening and fragrant. Then cover the veggies with chicken stock. Bring the stock up to a boil and then turn the heat down and simmer for 40 minutes. Your vegetables will be soft at the end of the 40 minutes.

Either use an immersion blender (one of my favorite kitchen gadgets) or transfer your mixture to a food processor to blend until smooth. Add some more chicken stock if the soup is too thick for you. When all is said and done you should have used most if not all of a 32 oz container of chicken stock. Once blended, season with salt, pepper, allspice and cinnamon. I served mine with sourdough bread and I probably would have dipped a whole loaf of it in this soup given the opportuity. It gives me a hankering for a bread bowl.

I originally got this recipe from allrecipes.com and added the cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg.

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Hoisin Stir Fry

Beef and vegetable stir fry, rather simple actually – though it would have tasted better if I didn’t try to cheat. Not that it tasted bad. Just not as good as it could have.

The really cool part about this stir fry is that it takes about 20 minutes. So, perfect for a week night when you don’t have a lot of time. Serve it up with some steamed rice.

I’m going to start something new with the new year. I’m going to put the recipe in my post instead of a separate page. Tell me how you like it?

Here’s the ingredients:

1 lb Steak, sliced thin – the recipe says sirloin, I used a cheaper “every day” steak. I also used the same amount that I would have if I was just grilling it up for the two of us.

1 tbsp Cooking oil – the recipe suggests peanut or vegetable, I used canola and it tasted just fine.

3/4 c water

3 tbsp soy sauce

3 tbsp hoisin sauce

1 tbsp cornstarch

1 tsp dark sesame oil

8 shitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced thin – I took some help from the store and bought the ones that were packaged and sliced already.

1 c baby corn – or a can of corn kernels

8 oz of asparagus, cut in to 1 inch spears. Use fresh. Trust me. Canned gets mushy.

1 c sugar snap peas or snow peas and¬†1/2 c red bell pepper strips – I used a bag of frozen stir fry veggies… I’m thinking use the fresh stuff and add what you like.

1/2 c cherry tomato halves

Directions:

Whisk together the water, soy sauce, hoisin and cornstarch. Set aside.

Heat the oil over medium high heat in a large pan or wok. Put in the steak and cook until just medium. Remove from pan and set aside, but keep the juices and oil.

Add sesame oil, mushrooms and corn, cook and stir until mushrooms are tender and corn is heated through. Add asparagus, snap peas and bell peppers, cook and stir until crisp-tender.

Return beef and juices to skillet. Stir sauce mixture and add to pan, along with tomatoes. Cook and stir 1 minute or until heated through and sauce has thickened.  Serve over rice

I got this from my Thai Cooking book. See my bibliography.