When I got back from my book tour, all I wanted to do was cook cook cook. Comfort foods, mostly. That first night it was my ultimate comfort food dish of fusilli with homemade tomato sauce and a Caesar salad to start. The next night, though, I wanted a different sort of comfort food. I was thinking: “Butternut Squash Soup.” I’d serve it with a salad made with radicchio, fennel, apples, toasted walnuts–olive oil and lemon juice for dressing–a hunk of blue cheese on the side and maybe a hunk of bread to round things out. No recipes were used in the making of this dinner. I just winged it. And the results totally hit the spot.
How do you wing a butternut squash soup? Easy….
Start with butter, 2 to 3 tablespoons in a pot.
I recommend using butter as your fat base, rather than olive oil, because it results in a creamier soup and pairs well with the cream you’ll add at the end. When the butter’s melted, add a chopped yellow onion:
Add a pinch of salt and if you want some heat, a pinch of cayenne pepper. Cook on low heat. You’re not looking for browning, just for the onion to soften. While that’s happening, chop up some fresh ginger and add that to the pot too.
Finally, add a chopped up, peeled green apple (hat-tip, Barefoot Contessa) and a chopped up, peeled butternut squash. You can have large chunks, that’s fine. It’s all going to be pureed in the end.
Add another pinch of salt, stir that around, and at this moment I spied some of Craig’s whiskey on the kitchen counter.
I figured what the hell and added a glug of that. I let the alcohol cook off and then I covered everything with chicken stock I bought at Citarella.
Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer and cook like that for 30 minutes or so until the butternut squash mashes up easily when you press it with a spoon against the side of the pot. Also, taste it for salt as it cooks; depending on how salty the stock is, it may need more.
30 minutes later, here’s what you’ll have:
At this point, you can pour it into a blender or do what I did and use a stick blender (which I brought from L.A.) to blend things up.
And there you have it: Easy Butternut Squash soup.
Wanting to gild the lily, I took some cream out of the refrigerator and whipped it slightly with the tiniest pinch of sugar. Then I added a glug of whiskey and some freshly grated ginger.
Drizzle the ginger whiskey cream on the soup and serve it up with your salad and bread:
Isn’t that a fine looking autumn dinner? And wasn’t that pretty easy? I can’t imagine a more comforting meal on a cold November night, especially when you’ve been on the road for two weeks and crave a taste of home. This is it.