I’ve suffered from a bit of a problem since moving back to Michigan from Connecticut. See, I really loved my house in CT, particularly my kitchen. I have NOT loved my apartments in MI – particularly their kitchens. This in turn makes me not really want to cook, an activity that I once found to be therapeutic and my favorite way to unwind after work.
Those of you who have been with me for awhile may have noticed that I’ve sort of lost my will to blog regularly, which I’ve determined is directly related to the kitchen/cooking depression.
Well, I’ve been trying to get my kitchen groove back. So two Sundays ago, I attacked my kitchen depression with a vengeance. Well, first I attacked the Wicked Halloween 5K in Plymouth with a vengeance:
THEN I attacked my kitchen with a vengeance – although my vengeful attitude was somewhat subdued when I realized that my old iHome radio – the kitchen radio – was a casualty of the move. And that even if it hadn’t been, there was not enough of a barrier in the apartment to keep my sixties girl group and top 40 music from interfering with Sunday football. So I cried for a few minutes. Then I really did go into vengeful kitchen mode.
Since I was already crying, I chopped some onions first – sort of a warm-up, if you will. I halfheartedly sang a few a capella tone-deaf verses of “He’s a Rebel” under my breath while I chopped – not quite the same, but it helped a little. (At least until the husband informed me that he could in fact hear me. And asked what was so rebellious about “the way he shuffles his feet.” He never did understand the girl groups.)
Then I got my shit together and started chopping in earnest.
Once I finished the onions (I got tired of crying about halfway through, and, just in case you were wondering, putting on safety glasses from when he worked in the lab does NOT prevent onion tears) I really got down to business. I started with apple crisp.
See, we took this field trip to Wassem’s Orchard awhile back, which was really just an excuse for sister and I to get donuts but resulted in a half-bushel of apples living in our refrigerator. We were pretty sick of eating apples by this point and in my delicate state I wasn’t about to tackle pie…so apple crisp it was. Apple crisp is pretty easy: peel and slice the apples, toss them with some sugar, grind up some brown sugar, oatmeal, walnuts, flour and spices in the food processor and layer everything in a pan. Bake it for a while. BOOM – apple crisp.
Where I really got down to business was my butternut squash and carrot soup.
I have been craving butternut squash soup since I started seeing squash in the stores. Although most things that are the consistency of baby food gross me out, a pureed squash soup seasoned with curry powder is a fall dream come true. I decided to add the carrot because I thought I had recently seen a recipe that incorporated carrot, and I had several in the fridge.
I started by peeling, halving, and roasting the squash at 350 until it was fork-tender, about 45 minutes. I had made butternut squash soup before without roasting the squash and it was fine – but I felt like it lacked the depth of flavor I knew I could get from roasting the squash. While the squash roasted, I peeled and grated four medium-sized carrots.
I removed the roasted squash and, while it cooled, started melting some butter in a saucepan. Once the butter was hot, I threw in some of the onion I had chopped earlier (seasoned with the salt of my tears, ha ha). I cooked the onion slowly over medium heat, letting it get translucent but not brown.
Once I had achieved what I considered proper onion softness, I added the grated carrot and the squash (which I had cubed once it had cooled). I cooked these all together for a bit until everything was softened, then added enough chicken stock to cover the mixture. I brought it to a boil, then reduced the heat, covered the pot and let it simmer for awhile.
After about 40 minutes of simmering – during which time I made chicken salad from my friend Tom’s excellent recipe and managed NOT to cry or sing audibly – I turned down the heat and let the soup cool a bit. By this time everything was very soft and the squash wasn’t recognizably cubed anymore. Once cool enough, I transferred it in batches to my food processor (my immersion blender also seems to be a casualty of the various moves, which actually DID make me cry again) and pureed it to that wonderful-yet-terrible baby food consistency.
After it was pureed, I returned it to the pot and added a bit of half and half while heating it over low heat – just enough to smooth it out a bit. I also added salt and pepper to taste, as well as what I consider the key ingredient:
I’ve done the nutmeg thing and it’s been good, but curry powder and butternut squash were, to quote Sleepless in Seattle, “M.F.E.O.” (You know, made for each other?!) – the curry powder adds that savory warmth that gives the sweet squash and carrot a little “oomph.”
I ate this soup every day for a solid week for lunch and never got sick of it. It was excellent. Do you have a killer butternut squash soup recipe – or any great soup recipe? If so – please share! Now that I’m crawling out from under my kitchen depression, I’d love to give it a try.