I love cream soups. Creating them is definitely an exercise in self-nurturing. This week I was pleased to come upon a display of winter squash in a bin at the grocers. At only ninety-nine cents each, how could I go wrong in experimenting with a new variety? I chose a brightly-hued orange squash. The shape and size reminded me of a small pumpkin.
To prepare the squash for soup, I sliced it in half. Be very careful cutting through winter squash. It is extremely hard-skinned, and the knife could easily slip out and cause you harm. I usually pierce the squash with a paring knife and gently, but firmly wiggle my way around. An alternate method is to cut off the ends, and with a larger knife, cut the squash directly in half.
Place the squash in an ovenproof glass dish, mine has a matching lid. Add about a 1/4 to 1/2 inch of water in the bottom. Place your onion and other spices alongside the squash. Cook in a 350 degree oven for 50 to 60 minutes. The squash is ready to use when a skewer easily pierces the skin and interior. Take care when removing the lid, the steam can give you a nasty burn.
Flip the squash over. I cool the squash, uncovered, for about an hour. Using a metal spoon with a hard, thin edge, I scoop out the interior close to the skin. Discard the outer shells.
Place squash and onion in a blender or food processor. Add 2/3 – 1 cup of milk, cream or broth. I used 1/3 cup of buttermilk and 1/3 cup of milk. I also added a teaspoon of brown sugar for sweetness. You could use maple syrup, sugar, other natural sweeteners, or nothing at all. A squeeze of lemon and a dash of garlic powder were also added to the blender. Puree all the ingredients together. Pour into a saucepan and heat. Do not bring to a boil. Salt and pepper to taste. A dash of cinnamon adds even more appeal. Enjoy!
Here are the ingredients I used. I recommend using an onion in place of the shallot. The shallot has a nice flavor, but did not blend easily and left little bits of purple skin in the finished soup.
Winter Squash Soup (makes 1 serving, ingredients easily doubled)
1 Small Winter Squash
fresh or dried herbs
1 small onion or shallot
Cut Squash in half, half or quarter an onion. Place in glass pan with 1/4 to 1/2 inch of water in bottom. Strew fresh or dried herbs over ingredients. (I used thyme and parsley with a dash of oregano.) Cover. Bake in 350 degree oven for 50 to 60 minutes. Cool completely.
Place ingredients in blender or food processor. Add additional spices. I used some garlic powder, salt and pepper. I also added a teaspoon of brown sugar and a squeeze of lemon.
Add 2/3 – 1 cup of liquid. (Milk, buttermilk, cream or broth) Broth will create a thinner soup. Heat in saucepan and serve. (Do not boil)
It’s easy to experiment with cream soups. They are good base for combining flavors you enjoy. Add little bits of herbs and spices as you blend. You never know what kind of heavenly concoction you might create.