Butternut Squash Soup with Sage-Gouda Baguette

Look at the pretty mug o' soup

From Giada De Laurentiis’ newest cookbook, Giada at Home: Family Recipes from Italy and California (Amazon link), I made this butternut squash soup tonight. Its been snowing and blowing all day, so this seemed like a great choice for such a gloomy, read a good book in bed all day, kind of day.  Unfortunately, I did have to venture out to buy the sage but Horrocks is quite close and the snow was keeping the usual Sunday crowd away.

I received this cookbook as my prize for winning the Cookbooker challenge by reviewing recipes from a featured cookbook. This is the first thing I’ve made from it. I’m intrigued by some other dishes, especially the lobster risotto (because really, who wouldn’t want that!?!). I doubt I would have bought this book of my own volition simply because I tend to avoid the Food TV cookbooks even though I do like Giada’s show.

There are some recipes which definitely are more suited to spring but a soup like this is perfect for mid-December.  I have been eager to make a pureed soup since ordering an immersion blender (thank you Kohl’s Cash!) a few weeks ago. An immersion blender has been on my ‘wish list’ for-EVER and I discovered that Kohl’s carries a recommended one with a more powerful motor than the cheapie available elsewhere.

This one is from Wolfgang Puck and came with a number of accessories I don’t really need but for the price (with the coupon) it didn’t really matter. I did notice that the casing on the motor section gets hot so as I use it, I’ll need to be mindful of that.

The soup is easy enough: onion, carrot and garlic sauteed in butter/olive oil then diced butternut squash added along with several cups of broth. Bring to a boil, add sage then cook 20 minutes or until veggies are soft enough to blend.  We liked it though I did have to adjust the salt for more flavor boost- I didn’t use low-sodium broth so this surprised me but it wasn’t enough to make me worry about sodium. I do think I might make this in the future with oven-roasted squash. A little (or a lot) caramelization never hurts.

The recipe called for fontina cheese melted on baguette which I didn’t have and didn’t see at Horrocks so I just picked something that would melt and sounded good. In this case, it was Beeemster XO Gouda. The XO stands for extra old or aged. It is a harder cheese and nuttier than regular gouda but not smoked, as you can sometimes find gouda.  Good on the bread, and yummy straight up too.

Between the fun of immersion blending and the cool new soup mugs I won at the charity auction (through work) last week, I see plenty more soups in my future.

Thanksgiving Day: The Results

From the top:

Green beans, stuffing, chicken, gravy, smashed potatoes, baked beans, corn muffins, honey butter, regular butter. Not pictured: butternut squash bake; assorted wines.

The Gravy: No recipe but basically, heat some broth/stock over medium heat.  When bird comes out of the oven, place chicken/turkey on serving platter to rest.  Heat roasting pan over a burner, add wine, stock or water to deglaze tasty bits.  Pour off drippings in to a measuring cup. I had some big solid flavor-enhancers (whole garlic cloves, sprigs of fresh herbs) in the roasting pan so to save time, I filtered the drippings through a 3-ply square of cheesecloth, squeezing to get all the liquid through.  Let the liquid settle/cool so the fat starts to rise up and can be skimmed off (you can put it in the fridge/freezer to speed things up).  While the drippings were cooling, I was jazzing up the broth by mashing the garlic cloves from the roasting pan and adding a little dried sage.  Add defatted drippings to broth, bring to a rolling boil and allow to reduce by about 1/3.  Add 2 tablespoons cold butter and 1 tablespoon flour to thicken. Serve immediately.  This makes a moderately thick gravy; you could add more broth to make a thinner style.

Baked Beans: Yeah, I had big plans for these. I was going to dice up bacon, make the beans in the crockpot and so forth. Then I got busy and voila, one can o’  beans. With maple flavor and bacon, as requested.  It turns out my brother was envisioning the beans my aunt Bonnie makes.  And I don’t know how to make those anyway except it was described as “a bacon sandwich, with beans in between.”

Wines: We had a bottle of Cline Ancient Vines Zinfandel & one of Susana Balbo Malbec with dinner then had a very dark cherry-chocolate cabernet from Mitolo (soon to be on the Winning Wines list).

Pre/Post Dinner Snacks: We had cheese and crackers with some yummy Vidalia-Onion fig sauce and sliced bell pepper. We also had a mushroom-cashew nut spread made by my mom. Excellent on crackers or slices of bread.  And this quite frankly evil dark chocolate-matzo cracker-pistachio concoctation that I’m really glad is all gone.  I’m not so glad that its all gone because I ate most of it.   Sweet-salty and just not right!