Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Butternut Squash Soup with Marsala & Thyme ~ 11.30.10

There's just nothing like a hot bowl of soup and a sandwich. My favorite weekend meal and my favorite any day of the week meal. Yes, I do believe I could eat soup and a sandwich or salad everyday. There are endless possibilities.

The following recipe was clipped from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette sometime in the past few years, maybe more (note to self: start writing the date of the paper on the recipe!). I love butternut squash. So healthy and hearty and filling! And I can not resist that bright orange color when you cut into it- GORGEOUS!

This soup came together quickly with one of my pantry staples: bacon grease from the fridge! No need to defrost a whole pound of bacon or even run to the store. The grease is what was needed to build the flavors in this soup and get the onions tender. If you're vegetarian, you could by all means swap out your favorite sauteeing oil. I do think the fresh thyme was a bonus. I have had my thyme plant sitting outside for a few years now and it never lets me down. One of my all time favorite herbs and it's so hardy through the winter!

Enjoy this lovely soup.

Butternut Squash Soup with Marsala and Thyme

1 butternut squash, about 3 lbs (3 3/4 cup cooked), halved lengthwise, fibers and seeds removed
6 slices of bacon (alternatively, I used bacon grease that I just keep in a container in my fridge!)
2 large yellow onions, chopped
1 1/2Tbs chopped fresh thyme or 1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
5 1/4 cups chicken or vegetable stock (I used a quart container I had in the freezer of homemade)
1/3 cup heavy cream or half and half
3 Tbs dry marsala or dry sherry (I used 1 Tbs sherry)
pinch of cayenne (forgot that part)
S & P
Fresh thyme leaves for garnish, optional

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Place squash cut sides down in a large baking dish. Add water to pan to a 1/4 inch depth and bake until tender. About 50 minutes
Remove from oven and let cool a bit. Scrape out the flesh.
In a large saucepan, over medium heat, cook bacon until the fat is rendered, about 3 minutes. Add the onions and thyme, saute until tender and remove from heat.

(here is where I deviated from original instructions. I have an immersion blender- best purchase I made this fall- and I just threw all the ingredients into the pot after I sauteed the onion and thyme and then gave it a nice whirr)

Transfer onion mixture to a food processor or blender- In 2 or more batches, add the squash and puree until smooth. Return the puree to the saucepan and over medium low heat- mix in the broth. Simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the cream or half and half and the marsala or sherry. Add the cayenne and S&P. IF the soup is too thick, thin with additional stock to desired consistenc.

Ladle into bowls and garnish with chopped fresh thyme leaves.

Serve hot. 8-10. (I got 2 full quart containers from my ONE butternut squash. It was a medium sized squash, too!)

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