Monday, November 4, 2013

Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup

Uggghh, I know this picture is not the greatest. Dang you, non-natural light!
As an adult--and even as an aspiring dietitian--I have retained a childish stubbornness about trying certain unfamiliar vegetables. Eggplant, for example, seems like a big-bottomed purple flesh monster. And lima beans could be delicious, for all I know, but I remember hating them as a child, so you bet I'm not touching them with a 39 1/2 foot pole now! Don't even get me started on collard greens.

Butternut squash is another one that alerts my veggie stranger danger. It never made the meal rotation in my household growing up, so I never ventured to try it in any other context. But in recent years, I've tried to swallow my inner protestations and make the effort to tackle some new vegetables, one at a time. As with trying anything else new, some things I end up liking, some things I don't. (Bok choy, kale, endive, and parsnips, get a thumbs-up. Beets and artichokes, thumbs-down.)

Having done quite a bit of reading in the last year on the wisdom of eating seasonally, I decided butternut squash made the short list for must-try vegetables this fall. Now, having eaten it, I don't know what I was so apprehensive about! If you've never had it, it's not unlike pumpkin--creamy and a bit nutty. Plus, it contains an off-the-charts level of Vitamin A and is a good source of Vitamin C. 

We've had this soup twice now. (My husband raved about it the first time, so I made it again a couple of weeks later.) It comes together quite simply, with a velvety texture and noticeable hint of nutmeg. We like it as a main dish with cheesy bread or a salad, but it could also serve as a lovely first course for a dinner party. If nothing else, it's worth making just for the incredible aroma that will fill your home as it simmers! 

Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup
(Slightly adapted from Better Homes and Gardens)

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp. butter
3 c. peeled, diced butternut squash
2 c. thinly sliced carrots
3/4 c. diced onion
28 oz. chicken broth (homemade makes this especially delicious)
1/4 tsp. ground white or black pepper
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 c. half-and-half
Sour cream (optional)

Directions:

In a large stock pot, melt butter over medium heat. Cook squash, carrots, and onions in butter for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add broth. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, 25-35 minutes, or until vegetables are very tender.

Using an immersion blender (or in batches in a food processor/blender with a tight-fitting lid), puree the soup until smooth. Return to stock pot. Add pepper and nutmeg; bring just to boiling. Add half-and-half; heat through. Garnish with sour cream, if desired.

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