Sunday, October 17, 2010

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

For me, fall is a time for mixed emotions. Leaves turn orange and yellow, then they fall off the tree. They stay quite pretty for a little while, and then a big ol' wind comes up and blows them all over the place. I take a lot of pictures this time of year because it's so scenic. The scenery doesn't last long, but I don't mind as Halloween comes shortly thereafter. And with Halloween comes pumpkins!

I never knew all the different ways you can eat pumpkins. They can be used for much more than carving faces into them to scare the crap out of the local little kiddies who come knocking at your door for candy. They can be roasted, made into soup, added to risotto, the list goes on and on. Roasting is good as they get nice and caramelized and get a nutty flavour. Soup is great too, a good meal for when the weather starts to turn a little colder. And risotto, well let's just say it's good anytime with almost anything, even pumpkin.

Butternut squash is part of the pumpkin family and is quite healthy for you (http://www.wholeliving.com/article/power-foods-butternut-squash). We try to have it a few times a year in various dishes. It's colour is a nice, bright orangey-yellow inside. This usually means it is full of nutrients and vitamins.

We went to Community Natural Foods (http://www.communitynaturalfoods.com/) to pick up a few things for the soup and for a couple other projects I'm planning for this week. This is a great place to shop if you are looking for anything organic. As far as grocery stores go, their prices are fairly competitive and they have a pretty wide selection of most everything on their shelves.

This soup is pretty hearty and can be quite filling. A smaller bowl will do just fine if you are eating more than one course. A bigger bowl is practically a meal on it's own. The deep flavour of the squash goes well with many different additions you want to add to it. Before serving, I usually go to the garden and grab a few sage leaves to put on top of the soup when serving or at the bottom of the bowl before pouring the soup over top. I sometimes add a dollop of yogurt on top to mix in or a small handful of finely grated Parmesan. Chives are a good garnish as well.

Ingredients

- 1 Large leek (white and pale green parts only), chopped
- 1 Large onion, chopped
- 1 Large butternut squash, cubed
- 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4-inch thick
- 1 Quart chicken or vegetable stock. I usually use chicken stock, but today I used vegetable.
- 2 tbls curry powder
- 1/2 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
- 1/2 tbls butter
- EVOO
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tbls yogurt
- 2 Sage leaves
- 2 tbls chives, chopped

Directions
  1. Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat with the EVOO. Stir in the leek and onions, cook until the onion softens and turns translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the squash, apple and the stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the vegetables are soft, about 20 minutes.
  2. Carefully puree the soup in batches using a blender, or use an immersion blender to puree it right in the pot. Once the soup has been pureed, season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper; simmer gently for 5 minutes. Ladle into bowls and garnish with yogurt, sage leaves and chives.



When we have people over, I strain the soup to make it smooth and velvety. If it's just us, I couldn't be bothered. It's still good. You could add a little dry white wine for an added flavour boost with this if you like. Some people add a potato, but I don't. It's thick enough without it already. I cut back on the butter and used EVOO to cook the onions and leeks. The butter flavour is still slightly there but the calories aren't. You could also add more curry if you want a stronger curry presence. Be careful not to overdo it. It can be fairly potent. The soup is also very tasty without the apple. This is the first time I have tried it and it adds a distinct background flavour. I like it! Make sure it's a Granny Smith as it has a tartness to it which the soup embraces. I have seen a few recipes which have cream in them, but I have never added this. If you can handle the extra calories, go for it.



Little O's Menu

This last week, our little peanut has been eating normally and we think she is going through another growth spurt. She has been dining on Hubbard squash with roast beef, carrots, EVOO and sea salt and fresh ground pepper for her dinners. She also had a little avocado mixed with some turkey. This didn't go over well, may be a bad combo. Have to rethink that one. She likes avocados, as long as they are mixed with cucumbers and carrots or just bananas.

Breakfasts have been the normal yogurt, rice cereal and fruit. Strawberries, bananas, pears and apples all came into active duty. We are extremely happy she looks forward to her daily feeding of fruit. She will even shy away from what we are feeding her for lunch or dinner to opt for the fruit mix. Hey, it could be a lot worse.

Mrs. Urban Eaters birthday was at the beginning of October, so last night we went out (finally) for her birthday dinner. Our destination was a nice Greek restaurant named Santorini's (http://www.santorinirestaurant.com/). We have been there before, but not for a couple of years now. Nice atmosphere to eat in. Pictures of Greece on the wall make you want to go there tomorrow.

We had the Taverna Special which is an easy way to order. You just say how many people are eating and they just bring you the food. There is quite a bit of food but we don't eat that big often, so we figured it was alright this time. It starts with a serving of hummus with pita bread, Saganaki and Horiatiki (Greek) salad. Next was calamari, Keftethes (Greek meatballs) and Spanikopita. Then we moved on to the lamb and roast potatoes. We paired this with a bottle of '04 Grande Reserve Naoussa Boutari Greek red wine. Nice pairing to go with our dinner. We couldn't even barely get started on the lamb when we decided to just take it home. This works well because little O really likes her lamb, which she ate tonight with Hubbard squash and the roast potatoes. 

It was pretty expensive the last time we went, but we noticed the prices have come down dramatically. We were pleasantly surprised about this and we will definitely go back soon. Little O was kind of a handful as she was a little hyper, but behaved very well. By the end of dinner, she was sleeping in Mrs. Urban Eaters arms. People were coming to our table saying how she was such a pleasant child to be around. We consider ourselves lucky she is like this and she normally doesn't stop or hinder us if and when we want to go out for dinner somewhere.

Today's quote:

"As a child my families menu consisted of two choices: take it or leave it."

- Buddy Hackett


Until next time, good eating everyone.

Mark 

1 comment:

Janice said...
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