Butternut Squash Soup

While I was talking to a friend the other day, she said I should add a sprinkling of dinner recipes on my blog. Why not? I like to bake….and I like to cook.

This recipe was  written by someone who I find really really annoying with her made up words, her acronyms (see: EVOO), and always too jolly demeanor. Her interesting spins on everyday recipes, however, force me to put up with the things I can’t stand about her. If you haven’t already figured this out, I’m speaking of Rachael Ray. Last night I made her Chipotle Butternut Squash soup. To make it really easy to put together, I got pre-cut squash from Trader Joe’s. All’s you have to do is microwave it in the bag for 6 mins or until tender. After that, the recipe only took 30 mins to put together. I added my notes next to the ingredients. Making this recipe was pretty exciting because I got to use my dutch oven AND my new food processor…very fun.

Ingredients

  • Small butternut squash or Trader Joe’s pre-cut squash (1 bag)
  • EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil, for roasting pumpkin or squash, plus 1 tablespoon
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 quart chicken or vegetable stock, divided
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon coriander, 1/3 palmful – I didn’t use this.
  • 1 teaspoon cumin, 1/3 palmful
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1/3 palmful
  • Honey, for drizzling
  • 3 tablespoons butter –  I used 1.5 tablespoons
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups shredded yellow sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 small chipotle peppers, seeded and finely chopped, plus 1 rounded tablespoon of adobo sauce – I couldn’t find adobo sauce at Trader Joe’s, so I bought a small can of cut-up hot peppers. I used 1 tbs and froze the rest.
  • Unsalted crispy yellow or blue corn tortilla chips – Definitely use the chips. They add nice texture.
  • Toasted pumpkin seeds, garnish – I did not use these.

Preparation

If using fresh pumpkin or squash, preheat oven to 425°F. Peel, seed and chop pumpkin or squash, coat with EVOO, salt and pepper, and roast to tender, 45 minutes. If using canned pumpkin purée, skip this step.

Heat 1 tablespoon EVOO in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Sauté carrots and onions to tender, about 10 minutes. Season with nutmeg, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, paprika, a drizzle of honey, salt and pepper to taste. Toast spices, about 1 minute.

Add the carrots and onions along with the roasted pumpkin or squash to the bowl of a food processor and purée with a splash of stock. If using canned pumpkin, purée the onions and carrots together with some stock and stir in the canned pumpkin to combine.

Melt butter in same pot as you cooked the carrots and onions, whisk in flour then milk. Season with salt and pepper, and thicken to coat a spoon. Stir in cheese to melt, add chipotle and adobo sauce. Stir in remaining stock and squash or pumpkin purée. Let simmer to thicken soup.

Place a few crushed tortillas in shallow bowl and top with soup. Mix the tortillas into soup as you eat, garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds on top.

http://www.rachaelrayshow.com/food/recipes/pumpkin-cheddar-and-chipotle-soup/

French Onion Soup

I’ve only ever had French Onion Soup in those little packets from the supermarket and even then I’ve only ever had the dip you can make using those packets. It’s definitely a different (and much better) experience making the soup homemade versus opening the little packet and pouring the powder into a bowl. I love the contrasting flavors of the sweet onions, rich beef broth, and sharp cheese.

Making French Onion Soup is a relaxing process. It takes awhile, but is not very labor intensive and the smells that come from the kitchen are so nice. The super slow cooking works to meld the flavors and to give the broth a deep depth of flavor. It’s also super cheap- broken down the main ingredients are beef broth, onions, butter, baguette, and cheese. And to this basic recipe, you can do many different things. For example, I added a cinnamon stick to my soup as it simmered and the hints of cinnamon were fantastic. Red wine is also a staple ingredient. I didn’t have any on hand, so I just added more beef broth.

After doing lots of research to see what the most basic ingredients of French Onion Soup are, I decided to roughly follow a recipe from Epicurious.com. I only wanted to make enough for two people with a small amount of leftovers. To do this, I only used one onion and estimated the proper amounts for the remaining ingredients. This is the type of recipe where you can easily estimate needed ingredients. I’ll give the basic recipe I used and also give the link to the Epicurious recipe.

Serves 2 with one bowl of leftovers

Prep Ahead:

1- Cut the onion. Cut in half, half the halfs, then half the quarters

2- Put  2 tbps flour in a ramekin or other bowl, set aside

3- Mince 1 large clove or 2 small cloves garlic

4- Rinse a few sprigs of thyme

Ingredients:

one large onion

3 tbs butter

1 large clove or 2 small cloves garlic, minced

salt

2 tbsp flour

2 cups beef broth (Everything I read said the soup is best with homemade broth, but I used store bought reduced sodium organic)

1/2 cup water (see note)

a few sprigs thyme

cinnamon stick

Cheese (I used deli sliced Swiss)

Note: If you plan to use red wine, add that before you add the broth and omit the water.

Directions:

1-  Melt the butter in a Dutch Oven or heavy saucepan over moderate heat. Allow the butter to foam a little bit.

2- Add the onions and salt. Allow the onions to cook for 45 minutes or even more. Stir occasionally. Monitor the onions so they do not burn. You want them to turn a rich brown color. If any of the onions are becoming too dark, remove them and set aside for later.

3- Once onions are done, add the flour and stir to combine. Add the broth, water, garlic, thyme, and cinnamon stick. Allow to come to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for at least thirty minutes, but if you have the time, let it go for an hour. The flavors will come together that much more.

4- About 15 minutes before the soup is done simmering, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut 4 slices of bread. Arrange on a piece of foil and toast. Turn the bread over once and allow it to completely dry out. This should take about 10 minutes.

5- Take the bread out and turn the broiler on. Put the soup in oven safe bowls and put the toast on top. Cover the toast with the cheese. Put the bowls on a baking sheet and place them in broiler. Broil for 1-2 minutes or until the cheese is melted and has a golden color. Serve immediately.

And, as promised, here is the recipe from which I based my recipe: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/French-Onion-Soup-236714.