Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Spices make Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Well, I finally found a good way to put that chicken broth to use (although I apologize for the shoddy photo -- still need to get used to the new camera). It's actually from a recipe Mom and I stumbled upon separately, but considering her love for the Food Network, it came as no surprise when she made a rendition of one of the same dishes I had made for Thanksgiving in 2008. And when I say rendition, I mean it.

That was a fun Thanksgiving feast. With help from my turkey-brining brother, I believe that might have been the first I hosted that felt like a success. Because of the importance of soup in Asian cuisine, I made this Roasted Butternut Squash Soup, which actually made me extremely nervous because it's so different from the veggie-laden soups my family typically serves before meals. (Stephen has been bugging me to share a recipe, but it's one of those kitchen-sink situations that I'm not sure could actually be translated into the English language. Stay tuned).

But my aunt loved it, and Mom obviously liked it enough to at least make the Roasted Winter Squash part of the soup recipe, which was one of the delightful additions to our meal the last time Bryan's mom was in town. I knew exactly what it was because of the flavorful spices, even though her version was altered beyond recognition. Here's the recipe she used, except she mixed in a medium chopped onion, sauteed in extra-virgin olive oil, before serving the chunky goodness:

Mom's Roasted Butternut Squash
1 large butternut squash, peeled and cubed (I prefer the 2-pound packages of pre-cubed squash, but that's our little secret)
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
2 T. balsamic vinegar
2 T. molasses
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
2 T. finely chopped fresh sage, or 2 t. dried sage
1 T. sugar
2 t. Toasted Spice Rub (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix all the ingredients together in a 9x13 glass pan, making sure squash is in a single layer. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, tossing once about halfway through.

Toasted Spice Rub
1/4 c. fennel seeds
1 T. peppercorns
1-1/2 t. red pepper flakes
1/4 c. chile powder
2 T. kosher salt
2 T. ground cinnamon

Toast the fennel seeds and peppercorns over medium heat. When the fennel turns light brown, quickly add the red pepper flakes and toss constantly under the fan for less than a minute. Immediately turn spices onto a plate to cool.

After spices have cooled, blend in a food processor or blender (or a Magic Bullet if you have one!) with the chile powder, salt and cinnamon until evenly ground. Store in a glass jar in a cool, dry place, or freeze.

(Yes, this makes a bit much, but consider it an excuse to make the dish over and over again!)

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 cinnamon stick
2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
6-8 c. chicken broth
Mom's Roasted Butternut Squash, pureed in a blender

Saute onion, carrots, celery and cinnamon stick with oil over medium heat until soft, about 10 minutes. Stir in salt and pepper, then add 6 c. chicken broth. After mixture comes to a boil, let simmer for 5 minutes, then stir in pureed squash. Bring back to a boil, and let simmer for 10 minutes. Remove cinnamon stick, then puree in blender. If soup is too thick, add more broth or half-and-half if you like your soup creamy.

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