BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP!
Every year I post this Butternut Squash soup in time for Halloween, it is my most requested recipe. It’s filling, satisfying and my home smells like the holidays because of all the warm spices simmering. My kids remember with fondness how I would insist on Halloween night before we went “Trick or Treating” that they first have a warm bowl of soup. They loved it because I made them a part of making the soup the night before and had fun making the spider web before we served it! As a matter of fact as I am writing this blog and sharing this recipe again it is a couple of weeks before Halloween and of I have the soup simmering in the kitchen and the aroma is permeating my home with the smells of the holidays approaching. I’m tripling the recipe for the weekend for our Sunday brunch and freezing the rest for Halloween night. My kids are adults now but they still stop by on Halloween night to enjoy a bowl of soup they remember so fondly, talk about Halloweens past and the crazy fun we use to have. Then they leave to go on their way to who knows what crazy fun they are having now! You never stop being a mom.
When they were really small I had to find a way to make them sit down before they went to “trick or treat” to get some warm goodness into them. So, I came up with a design in the soup that looked like a spider web and a Quenelle made with vegetables (they didn’t know) and shaped it into the body of a spider! They loved it, thought it was creepy and ate every bite! Making the Quenelles for the first time is a bit much, it does take a little time to prepare. If you want to try to make them you can 2 days before and store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. All you have to do is take them out of the refrigerator and bring them to room temperature before putting them in the soup!
4 to 6 servings
1-3-lb. butternut squash
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, peeled and sliced thin
5 scallions chopped coarsely
1 tablespoon dry sherry
1-1/2 teaspoons each kosher salt and cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
2 quarts chicken stock or vegetable broth homemade or store-bought
4 ounces nonfat or low-fat cream cheese, room temperature and cut into pieces
6 to 8 tablespoons regular or vegan sour cream
3 scallions sliced thin
1 jalapeno with seeds diced small (optional)
2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
Pinch of Cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon truffle oil, extra virgin olive oil or walnut oil per serving for garnish
1 bottle of balsamic glaze or balsamic syrup, available on Amazon, https://amzn.to/2RIvNWn
Pre-heat oven to 350F.
Place the butternut squash on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle on 1 tablespoons of olive oil and use your hands to coat the whole squash. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes or longer until you can insert a knife all the way through the squash smoothly. Remove and set aside to cool for 20 minutes. When cool split open, remove seeds and scrape out flesh and set aside.
Heat a large soup pot for 1 minute add olive oil and heat for 30 seconds, add the onion, scallions and cook for 5 to 8 minutes. Add sherry, baked butternut squash salt, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and mix together. Add chicken or vegetable stock, bring to a boil, lower heat and slow simmer for 30 minutes.
In a blender add 3 ladles of soup and cream cheese and blend until smooth for 1 minute. Pour into a clean stockpot, blend the remaining squash add to the stockpot. Taste and adjust seasoning adding more salt if necessary.
Makes 6 to 8
A quenelle is an oval-shaped dumpling made with either fish, meat, liver, or poultry. I make mine using vegetables. The Quenelles can be made 3 days before and stored tightly covered in the refrigerator until ready to use. I do this ahead of time because it saves time!
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons shallot, minced
2 small zucchinis, chopped really small
¼ cup carrots peeled and chopped really small
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
3 tablespoons bread crumbs or gluten free bread crumbs
1 tablespoon Italian Parsley chopped fine
2 teaspoons chives chopped fine
Heat a cast iron skillet or heavy bottom skillet for 1 minute on medium high heat. Add the olive oil; swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Turn heat to medium.
Add the shallots and cook for 2 minutes or until they start to caramelize.
Add the zucchini, carrot and salt, cook until almost all of the liquid that was released from the zucchini has cooked down and you can hear a sizzle.
Pour into a bowl and let cool for 15 minutes.
Add the lemon juice and mix well.
Add the Parmesan Cheese, breadcrumbs, parsley, and chives mix together well.
To shape into Quenelles, take two teaspoons and fill up one with the zucchini mixture and roll them back and forth between both spoons until you have a solid oval shape. It may take 4 to 5 passes at it before you have the perfect shape. Place gently on a plate, cover lightly foil making sure the foil doesn’t touch the food, keep warm in an oven set at 175 F. until ready to serve.
TO MAKE SPIDER WEB
Make the spider web when you are ready to serve the soup.
Heat the soup until hot, Ladle a serving into soup bowls that have been rinsed in warm water to take the chill out, take your needle nose bottle filled with balsamic glaze and make 4 circles starting from the widest part of the bowl working your way into the center. Use a chopstick, toothpick or sharp knife to make the design for the spider web. Take the point of the instrument you choose and place it in the middle of the smallest circle and drag it towards the rim of the plate. Keep repeating this process until you have formed a spider web. Place the quenelle in the middle.
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