Butternut Squash Soup (on a weeknight?..yes you can)

The temperature took a mighty plunge down yesterday and nothing is better when its cold than something warm and velvety for dinner.  Butternut squash soup is a favorite of mine.  But this is good food not much time and most people think this is a soup that requires lots of time.  The answer is kind of a cheat, but it does solve the cooking time issue and it makes the soup even better.

This past Sunday, when making out my meal list for the week, I knew it would be pretty cold midweek.  I wanted this soup for dinner on that cold night.  The answer was obvious.  Roast the squash on Sunday and then put it in the frig until Wednesday evening.

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Roasting squash couldn’t be easier, it just requires the time….about 45 minutes.  And then you need it to cool enough to remove the skin…another 45 minutes.  So I just did it Sunday morning.  Cut it in half, sprinkle it with some oil and seasonings and then let it roast while I enjoyed my coffee and paper.  Take it out let it cool (completely is more like 2 hours).  Removing the skin when completely cool takes less than 5-10 minutes.  Place the roasted flesh in a container and let those herbs infuse even more (and make your soup even tastier).

Tonight, I actually got off work late, but it didn’t matter, because all the hard work was already done.  A quick saute of the vegetables, add the seasonings, stock and squash and let simmer 20 minutes.  A quick puree with my immersion blender and a spot of cream and dinner was ready in less than 45 minutes.  Smooth, velvety bliss for my tummy.  Life…is…good!

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You’ll need:

1 medium butternut squash

olive oil

salt and pepper

1 tsp ground sage

1 tsp dried thyme

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

3 stalks of celery, sliced

3 large carrots, peeled and sliced

2 Tbs olive oil and 1 Tbs butter

1/2 tsp fresh grated nutmeg

3/4 tsp dried thyme

4 cups good chicken or vegetable stock

1/2 cup fresh apple cider

1/2 cup cream

salt and pepper to taste

feta cheese, crumbled

cream (optional)

On your weekend day off:

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Cut squash in half length-wise and scoop out seeds.  Drizzle cut surface with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, sage and thyme.  Roast, cut side up for 40-50 minutes until flesh is tender.  Remove and let cool.  You can now easily remove the skin with a fork and your hands.  Place flesh in a container (you should yield about 2-3 cups) and refrigerate.

On soup night:

Heat a medium soup pot and add olive oil and butter.  Saute onion, carrots and celery over medium heat for about 5-10 minutes.  Add salt, pepper, nutmeg and thyme and stir well.  Add stock and roasted squash broken into medium size chunks.  Simmer for 20 minutes.  Add apple cider and turn off heat.  Puree soup with immersion blender.  Stir in cream.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Ladle into bowls.  Top with crumbled feta and a dribble of cream.  Serve immediately.  Enjoy!

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It was so good my son wants to take it for his school lunch tomorrow!

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