Every Sunday and Wednesday I work the farmers market selling organic fruit. I am a huge proponent of the organic movement, and I always buy organic if it fits in my limited budget. That being said, one of the things I love the most about working the market is that all throughout the day, the vendors work to trade with each other to cover their grocery lists for the week. There are two reasons in particular why this rocks. First, and the most obvious, we can build relationships with other farms and vendors and trade product because with real produce, shelf life is limited to a week or so and the value goes down with time. Second, it keeps us all eating seasonally. I know initially this doesn’t sound all that important, but it really is. In the most basic sense, eating seasonally brings only the freshest, and peak-season produce to the table, which means a healthier and tastier meal.
This brings me to the fact that as it’s “winter” in San Diego, we have a lot of lettuces, root vegetables, citrus, and squashes. I bring home a different kind of squash twice a week when I can, but lately I’ve been stuck on butternut squash. It always cooks up so nicely! Anywho, I had picked one up yesterday and wanted something relatively healthy but hearty for dinner. Some playing around in the kitchen yielded this recipe. Enjoy!
Recipe 3: Potato & Butternut Squash Soup with Caramelized Onions
- 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed.
- 1 medium onion (purple is best, but all I had was yellow)
- 3 small red skinned potatoes sliced thinly
- 1/3 cup milk or cream
- 6 cups stock (vegetable, chicken, or beef. I had a large beef soup bone that I boiled down with half and onion to make my stock)
- 3 tbsp butter (unsalted, but if you have salted butter, wait to salt the soup until it’s almost done, saltiness is hard to reverse)
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- Garnish options: pea sprouts, balsamic vinegar, a dash of vanilla extract, a dollop of sour cream, etc. Play around with this!
So the first thing I do is prep my vegetables. Peel and cube the squash as it’s a pain in the butt and good to get out of the way. Slice the potatoes thinly, they’ll break down easier this way, and you want a creamy soup. You can slice the onion however you like, I did thin coins as I love the look of it. Once your vegetables are prep’d, add the butter to a heavy-bottom saucepan, medium-large size. I have my enameled dutch oven that I like to use. Then add your onion, give it a stir to coat it with the butter, and lower the heat, covering and allowing to cook down for 15 minutes. Once they begin to look translucent, turn up the heat a bit and uncover, allowing the excess moisture to cook off and reduce to low again to begin to caramelize the onions. Note: the key to successfully caramelizing your onions is to allow them to cook without touching them on a lower setting. Once you see some browning, toss them a bit and repeat until you have some decent color.
Add the potato and squash cubes and toss them all together to coat them with butter and onion, and then add your stock. Don’t cover it. I know intuition will tell you to, but the extreme starch content will almost always cause it to boil over. Be patient, and allow the soup to cook on med until the largest chunks of squash are easily broken apart. When this happens, turn off the heat and let it cool for 5-10 minutes. Get your mixer out and a heat-safe bowl. You could do this in a food processor, but try to stick to glass or metal at this temperature. I don’t want anyone to destroy a food processor because the plastic heats up too much.
Pour the soup into your mixing bowl and add your paddle attachment to break up all the large pieces. Run at the lowest setting (this stuff splashes!) until much smoother. Then switch to your whisk attachment and add your cream while whisking on low. Chunks are okay here, but you get to decide how smooth you want your soup!
Add your nutmeg and dish out to bowls. Garnish and serve!
Notes: You can freeze what’s leftover, there’s nothing in the soup that will be largely affected if you freeze it (like proteins such as chicken or beef would be). You can also spice this up with some cayenne, paprika or chili flakes.