Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Gingered Butternut-Maple Soup

Tall adult woman dwarfed by squash
Today, we’re making soup. As you can see, we’re using what food scientists (with advanced degrees) call “one big mother” of a butternut squash. To get some sense of the humungous size of this squash, the in-cognito adult woman on the right tried and failed to hoist it. When she isn’t trying to smash the world record for squash lifting, this no-paparazzi-please woman is a well-known star in major motion pictures. The poster below is a familiar reminder of her Oscar-nominated performance in one such film. As you might expect, with her extreme height limiting the roles she can play, the lady dwells too much on past glories. Happily, she’s making a special appearance with us today, and has agreed to make this excellent soup if she can just lift the #@!%! squash onto the kitchen counter. Fortunately, food scientists (with advanced degrees) are standing by, eager to help our tall guest as she strains to lift the squash in the same outfit for which she met worldwide acclaim in this most memorable role: 

With the squash finally on the counter, here’s today’s recipe!

Gingered Butternut-Maple Soup:

7 lb. (3 kg) butternut squash
6 c. vegetable or chicken stock
⅓ c. maple syrup
2 tbsp. light brown sugar
1 tsp. powdered ginger
¾ tsp. salt
¾ tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
⅛ tsp. cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 c. whipping cream
½ c. sour cream, as garnish
½ c. coarsely chopped pecans, toasted (see Index for How to Toast Nuts), as garnish

Preheat oven to 350 deg. F. Have male food scientist or other muscular person halve squash lengthwise. Remove seeds and fibers from squash hollow. With squash cut-side down on parchment-lined sheet, make several slits in skin with sharp paring knife. Cover squash with foil, baking 60-to-75 min. or until squash is soft and cooked through. While squash is still hot, slice into manageable sections before scraping flesh of squash from skin.

Food scientist (with advanced degree) bisects squash.
Sliced squash assumes “bottoms up” position. 
Children under 18 should read no further.
Food scientist (with advanced degree) peels hot squash
wearing silicone glove. Nothing else - only silicone glove. 

To stock, add maple syrup, sugar, ginger, salt, nutmeg, black pepper, and cayenne. Heat in large saucepan just until warmed through. Working in batches, place some of the cooked squash in blender goblet with some of stock mixture. Purée and transfer to large saucepan over medium-high heat. Repeat until all of squash has been puréed in stock mixture and has been added to saucepan. 

Purée peeled squash with stock mixture in blender goblet.

Bring soup just to the boil. Remove from heat, stirring in whipping cream. Taste, adjusting seasoning. Serve garnished with dollop of sour cream and small flurry of chopped nuts. Serves 10 as an elegant first course at the dinner table. Serves 20 as sippers in small cups, shortly before guests move to the dinner table.

Gingered Butternut-Maple Soup: Serve it in a bowl ...

Or serve it in a cup. Popular with anyone tall - or small.

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