Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

New Year's resolutions are usually lost on me in about a week. If it wasn't worth changing during the past year there is no way the beginning of a new one will bring about any difference. Yes, I'm talking to you stretching after every run, going to bed earlier, and giving up diet soda! But, when my Mom gave me a gratitude journal on January 1st I knew this was going to be less of a resolution and more of a life altering habit. 

I, like many, tend to get bogged down with my long list of responsibilities. Between being a full-time student, volunteering part time at the hospital, applying to internships, working for the school, blogging, exercising and keeping up with our perpetually dirty apartment I can sometimes start to focus only on the negative. However, to a logical eye that is a list of tasks that I should be grateful to have in my life! I have been afforded absolutely amazing opportunities, adventures, and luxuries in my life and none of my hard work goes unnoticed. I have no reason to be negative about any of those things. It was time for a perspective change and this "diary" was the perfect place to start.

I have been pretty diligent about writing down at least three things everyday that made me smile and not too surprisingly two-thirds of my journal is food related. You can bet that this soup made an appearance.
What is something you are grateful for in your life?

My Dad and I first made this together while I was home over Christmas Break. I, of course, healthified it and he put his butternut squash chopping skills to the test. After some experimenting, readjusting, and pinches of this and that here and there we had concocted one of the best versions of butternut squash soup I have ever consumed.

The original recipe can be found here but I changed it...a lot.
As I discovered, you can alter this ingredients list to your heart's desire and still end up with a delectable  dish so don't shy away from it if you don't have exactly what I used. Make adjustments, substitutions, alterations, just be sure to make it. Trust me.

I am going to lay this recipe out differently to (hopefully) make preparation of this multi-step soup a little clearer. The ingredients you need are going to be listed above each step. To make your shopping list look for all the ingredients bolded and centered above the directions.

One final thing (I promise) my internship applications are due in two short weeks so I will return to my blog after I have given those all the attention they deserve and require. Wish me luck!

[The leftovers of this soup are really tasty so go ahead and make it a day or two before you eat it if you can]

1 4lb (when weighed at the grocery store skin on and all) butternut squash
1 tsp olive oil
Preheat oven to 400F
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper
Peel, seed, and cube butternut squash
Here is the best explanation I have ever seen on how to do this: Simply Recipes How-To

Put olive oil and squash into a bowl and toss to coat 
Spread squash cubes out on your baking sheet
Make sure the squash isn't too crowded or else it will just steam instead of roasting and you won't get that delicious roasted flavor
Sprinkle a liberal pinch of salt over the butternut squash
Just as you would if you were going to serve it  as a side dish
Put in the oven for 30-40 minutes stirring half way through
Remove from oven when it is tender and golden brown

1/2 large white or yellow onion
2 tsp freshly grated ginger root
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
3 cloves garlic
2 tbsp salted butter
While your butternut squash roasts chop the onion, dice the jalapeno, grate your ginger and mince the garlic
Since we will be blending everything together don't worry too much about the size of these items, just make sure they are similar (except the ginger of course) so they cook evenly

Heat a large soup pot over medium-heat when your squash has about 10 minutes left
Add your butter to the pot let it melt then add onion, jalapeno, and garlic
Cook until the onions are translucent and soft, about 6-7 minutes
Add ginger

2 cups low sodium vegetable broth
Add vegetable stock and your roasted butternut squash to the pot
If 2 cups isn't enough to cover all of your squash add more broth or water as needed
Bring to a boil and cover, reduce heat to a medium simmer
Cook for 5-7 minutes stirring every once in awhile

1 12 oz can fat free evaporated milk
1/2 cup unsweetened original almond milk
Reduce heat and stir in evaporated milk and almond milk
Cook over medium-low heat for 5-7 minutes or until everything is hot

food processor, blender, or stick blender
seasonings as desired
(I used a small pinch of curry powder and cumin to liven it up a bit but Italian seasonings would be good too)
Carefully pour soup into your food processor or blender, filling only to the max liquid fill line on your food processor or half way in a blender
Hold down the lid of your blender with a folded kitchen towel in hand to prevent a soup explosion
If you have a stick blender just blend your soup right there in your pot, lucky!
Pulse a couple of times to get it moving then puree until smooth
Pour pureed soup into a clean pot or your container for leftovers and continue this process in batches until all soup is pureed
If your soup is getting too thick just add water, vegetable stock, or a little more almond milk to thin it
Taste and season if needed

Optional Topping Suggestions:
Plain Greek Yogurt
Parmesan cheese
Fresh thyme 

Ladle about 1 1/2 cups of soup into bowls and serve with toppings if desired

Servings 4
Per serving (1 1/2 cups soup only, no toppings) 255 calories
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