I feel like I start a lot of entries explaining that I’ve decided to make a dish because x ingredient was on sale this week at the grocery store. And you know what? I’m proud of that! Part of my goal in starting this blog was to give myself a reason to experiment and to learn to “cook by feel” instead of following recipes (or asking Mike).
Tonight’s dinner was a great example of having an idea and then adapting the ideas I found online to fit the ingredients in my pantry, inventing something completely my own in the process.
Based on a recipe for Roasted Butternut Squash Soup and one for Butternut Squash Green Apple Soup, I made up some shallot-butternut squash-apple cider-ginger soup. And oh man, I loved it. That’s saying something, because I don’t usually like soup!
**ALTHOUGH, I must include this aside. I was at River Gods in Central Square last week and I think it was the first time I’ve ever actually ordered a soup at a restaurant. Not counting clam chowder, of course. It was a white bean (cannelini, I think) creamy soup with brie and grapes. Oh my god. It was basically a dessert soup…but there was no. friggin. guilt. I definitely recommend trying it if you happen to be there anytime soon!
I actually had soup yesterday at school, too (garbanzo, kale, and ham), and it was pretty satisfying. I’m learning that a hot soup can be just the ticket when you need something light but warm and filling.
ANYWAY. Tonight’s soup reminded me of one Becca suggested for a dinner party we had last winter, although I think we had cream or yogurt then and it was pretty great. I need to find out from Becca if she still has that recipe…
If you don’t have shallots, any sweet onion will do (Vidalia, ideally). But look at how pretty the purple and green shallots are! And so delicate!
The flavors of this soup are pretty subtle, but the color is bold and refreshing and everything just feels wonderful while you’re eating it. Trust me. Try it. Do it. Maybe add some mint if you’re feeling adventurous (only a few sprigs, though).
Butternut Squash-Apple Cider Soup
Makes a lot of servings! Maybe 6-8 appetizer, 3-4 dinner
1 Tbsp butter
2 big shallots, sliced (or 1 Vidalia onion, diced)
1/2 cup apple cider
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups water
1 cup white wine (I used cooking wine, but regular would be better. You could also use chicken or vegetable broth for a different kind of soup)
2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
In a large pot, heat oil and butter together, then add shallots and throw on a pinch of salt. Let them cook for a couple of minutes, then add apple cider and let it all reduce and pretend-caramelize for about 5 minutes. Add squash, water, wine, and ginger. Add salt, pepper, nutmeg, and cinnamon (be judicious with the last two). Bring to a boil, then simmer for at least 10 minutes, until squash is soft. Puree in a blender or with an immersion blender, sprinkle some pepper on top, and voila! Doneskies.
Note: If your squash isn’t soft after 10 minutes or so, you can cover the pot for a few minutes. It helped me a lot!