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Butternut squash soup perfect on cold days

Food For Thought
By Deborah Lee Walker | Oct 19, 2017

(Oct. 20, 2017) The changing of the season has always served as a great opportunity for chefs to ruminate a change of menu.

Gorgeous foliage is the backdrop for an impressive display that comes only once a year. Ruby reds, vibrant yellows and auburn oranges are truly a stunning sight and peak at the end of October. I highly suggest a drive to the Blue Ridge Mountains for a breath-taking view.

History is an intricate part of the future and should be revered to the fullest degree. Has one ever wondered how Salvation Army’s red kettle became synonymous with helping those in need?

In December of 1891, Captain Joseph McFee of The Salvation Army in San Francisco, California, wanted to provide a Christmas dinner for 1,000 poor people, but did not have the funds to pay for it.

Recalling his sailor days in Liverpool, England, he remembered seeing a large pot on the docks of the city’s waterfront in which charitable donations could be collected.

The next day, McFee obtained permission to place a brass pot at the Oakland ferry landing. In addition, he placed a sign that read, “Keep the Pot Boiling,” and in doing so was able to meet his goal for Christmas.

Two years later, McFee’s fundraising idea expanded to 30 kettle locations on the West Coast. In 1895, the idea of Salvation Army’s Christmas kettle made its way to the East Coast. To this day, the famous “kettle” is still one of the most successful Christmas fundraising tools of all time.

It is understandable how a soup kettle has become the symbol for feeding the poor. Soup has always been one of the most economical ways to provide a nourishing meal to a large quantity of people. Scraps and leftovers can contribute to a rich, satisfying meal.

If there is one soup that is synonymous with cooler weather, it is butternut squash. The sweet, nutty flavor is similar to pumpkin. The concept is simple but how does one extract as much flavor as possible is the question of the day.

The key to butternut soup is to take every opportunity to enhance and accent the natural essence of the butternut squash itself. This can be achieved by simmering the squash seeds and fibers in a combination of water and stock and using that liquid to steam the unpeeled squash. Then the reserved steaming liquid is strained and incorporated into the cooked squash and seasoned according to taste.

The soup itself is straightforward, therefore the garnishes are extremely important and determine the overall direction and theme of your appetizer. For example, a chipotle cream gives a Mexican flair to the soup. Scallions and crispy bacon highlights southern roots. Cinnamon and sugar croutons can be a wow factor for children.

Creamy butternut squash is a healthy, delicious soup that is representative of this gorgeous time of year. It will also pair well with one’s Thanksgiving feast. Enjoy!

 

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut Squash Soup

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 small sweet onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 pounds butternut squash, unpeeled, halved lengthwise, and each half quartered. Seeds and string fibers scraped with spoon and reserved.

3 cups water

3 cups chicken stock

1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, plus extra if desired

pinch of cayenne pepper

½ cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon dark brown sugar

1. Heat butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-low heat, add onions and garlic, stirring frequently, until softened and translucent. Add squash scraps (seeds and stringy fibers) and cook, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes.

2. Add water, stock and salt to the Dutch oven and bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low.

3. Place squash cut side down in a steamer basket and lower into pot. Cover and steam until squash is completely tender, about 30 minutes.

4. Remove pot from the heat, using tongs, transfer squash to a baking sheet. When cooled, remove flesh from the skin and place into a medium bowl. Discard the skin.

5. Pour reserved steaming liquid through a mesh strainer and place into a second bowl. Discard solids.

6. In a blender, puree squash and reserved liquid together.

7. Transfer soup to a medium pot, stir in cayenne pepper, cream and brown sugar. Heat over medium-low heat and adjust seasoning if necessary. Cover until ready to serve.

 

Chipotle Cream

1 teaspoon pureed canned chipotle chilies in adobo sauce

½ cup sour cream

kosher salt to taste

1. In a small bowl, mix canned chipotle and sour cream. Season with salt.

Presentation

Place soup in a bowl or cup. Each serving can be topped with a small dollop of chipotle cream or the chipotle cream can be artistically added to the top.

Secret Ingredient - Thoughts. “Great thoughts reduced to practice become great acts.”

– William Hazlitt

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