Sunday, January 10, 2010


Thursday should have been a fairly mellow day. I'd planned an easy dinner: soup and sandwiches. I had big plans. See, I'd gotten this butternut squash a while back (they keep for a long time) and hadn't gotten around to making my favorite fall/winter squash soup. After a whirlwind morning that included taking Maeve to the orthodontist and a brief trip to Safeway for some groceries, I was all ready to come home and chop up my squash and get cooking. Except I didn't get around to it because my Little Man is teething and he's been miserable, wanting to be held all the time. I finally got him down for a nap and had some lunch, then decided to get going on the squash.

After a few interruptions I'd gotten the squash peeled and cubed and the celery chopped, when I discovered that I had no onions. Not a one. Little Man was asleep - really, really asleep - and since that was what I'd wanted, I decided to let sleeping babies lie and put the soup on hold. Instead I folded laundry, got some other laundry done and then started on the girls' dinner. By the time it was ready, Little Man was awake and ready for dinner. He got to eat, then we all bundled into the car for yet another trip to Safeway to get onions. Fast forward several hours and I was finally enjoying my soup at around 11:30 pm. It was the perfect creative way to regain the sanity I'd lost during the day and was well worth waiting for.

So I thought I'd share this soup recipe with the rest of the world, or at least for those who haven't discovered the joy of soup. This one comes from the cookbook Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites. If you aren't familiar with the Moosewood Restaurant, it's a vegetarian (mostly - they do serve fish) restaurant located in Ithaca, NY that is well-known for being fabulous, in a groovy, all-natural, hippy kind of way.

So here's the recipe. It's surprisingly easy and only has 131 calories in a 9-ounce serving. Plus, it's a super yummy way to eat your veggies.

New England Squash Soup

1 c. diced onions
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced or pressed *Note: I generally make it 2 cloves because I like garlic*
1 c. unsweetened apple juice
1 butternut squash (about 1 pound), peeled, seeded, and cubed
1 potato, diced
3 cups water or vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 cups sliced mushrooms (about 6 ounces)
3 tbsp dry sherry
1 tbsp soy sauce
pinch of dried marjoram
2/3 c. evaporated skimmed milk
salt and ground pepper to taste

Combine the onions, celery, garlic, and apple juice in a large soup pot. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables soften. Add the squash, potato, water or stock, bay leaf, thyme, salt, and nutmeg. Bring to a boil , cover, lower the heat, and simmer until the vegetables are very soft, about 20 to 25 minutes.

While the soup simmers, sauté the mushrooms in an uncovered skillet with the sherry, soy sauce, and marjoram until the mushrooms are tender and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

When the squash and potatoes are very soft, remove the soup from the heat and, working in batches, purée the soup with the evaporated milk in a blender or food processor. Reheat gently. Add salt and pepper. Serve topped with the sautéed mushrooms.

I must admit that I've not yet tried the mushroom part because I'm not sure of the combo of squash and mushrooms, and when I first made this soup I was pregnant, so all I wanted was the squash taste and the idea of mushrooms was a turn-off. Also, I use stock but I find that many of the vegetable stocks available in the market taste very onion-y, something that I really don't like. So I use 1 can of vegetable stock and one can of chicken stock because I'm not a vegetarian. I've done it both ways and it's pretty good this way, too.

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