Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

I have found that many of my friends love food: They love to talk about it, they love to cook, they love to swap recipes, but mostly, they love to eat it. When we have nothing better to discuss, or when tempers brew, we turn to food to cool the flames (which inevitably leaves us arguing about the best way to prepare such and such). The great thing about his though, is that many a cookbook, many a recipe, and many a fabulous meal is passed between us.

A few winters back in December, the weather was cold and biting. I was invited to an intimate dinner by my good friend, A, who had a roommate that was trying a new soup recipe. Not one to turn down an invitation, especially one that involved soup, I jumped the subway for the 45 min commute to the cozy Brooklyn apt (this was when A and her roommates were saving money and found a great deal where they could also score amazingly cheap produce). When I arrived, there was a blast of warmth and the intoxicating smell of curry. E spouted off her newfound recipe and how easy it was, "so simple! Only four ingredients." It was not much later that we were breaking crusty bread and digging into this savory soup. The night continued and I cannot remember what else we ate-- possibly one of A's infamous salads? Regardless, it was the soup bowls that were literally wiped clean to indulge in every last sweet drop.

But soon it grew late and I had to make the trek back to Queens. I bundled my layers on, wrapped my head tight and copied the precious recipe soon to be had countless times in the future. Most recently I made it for D when I first saw butternut squash available at the market. D's reaction was much the same as mine upon first tasting: The bowl was licked clean. I brought leftovers into work the next day only to be hovered around while I ate the soup and "X" smelled the goodness, drooling for a bite she would not receive (sorry).

I am making this soup now, for a pre-feast whet of the Thanksgiving appetite. I offer advice: Please get yourself a handheld blender(cordless is optional). Especially if you enjoy soups that are blended (as I do) it makes the process worlds easier. Today I used a Cuisinart (I am in at my mother's for T-giv). Yes, classic Cuisinart, I love you, but you are the devil when I need to ladle hot soup into your bowl and I am forced to puree in 3 rounds. When I am home, I stick my lovely cordless handheld blender into my large vat of soup and voila, minutes later I have the perfect consistency with little hassle (it's also a great instrument to use when making smoothies). But with no further ado:

Makes 6 servings. Active time= 30min. Total= 1.5 hr
1 good size butternut squash
1 Granny Smith, or other tart apple, peeled and chopped into cubes
1 medium white onion, chopped
2 tsp curry
1 Qt, 4 cups, low-salt chicken or vegetable broth

1) Preheat oven to 425F. Cut the squash in half lengthwise, deseed (keep the seeds in a small bowl). Place facedown on a baking sheet and bake for 40min.
2) Rinse the seeds and lay out on another baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and bake 10-15 min (while the squash bakes). Remove and set aside.
3) While squash is baking, in a saucepot on medium heat, sauté the onion and apple, 10-15 min with a dab of butter or oil. Add the curry and stir. Turn the heat down to keep warm.
4) Remove the squash from the oven when done. Carefully (it is hot) peel the skin off the squash-- it should come off easily. Cut into cubes and add to the pot.
5) Turn the heat back up to medium, add the broth and let simmer 20min.
6) Puree the soup in a blender (or with a fabulous handheld one). Dish out, sprinkle with seeds, serve with crusty bread and enjoy the sweet nutty flavor.

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