Few things can console battered Chicagoans during winter, especially in the throes of a blizzard. No matter how much we say we are used to it, the bitter truth is that we never really get used to it. Like the stubborn Midwesterners we are, we just buckle down and wait for it to be over. And for the plows to unbury our streets so we can exhume ours cars from their snowy graves.
The day post-blizzard is usually clear skies and sunny. As if the sun poking its head out to say “Hey guys, I’m still here!” is a pretty band-aid on our slightly sunken spirits. The best of us make the best of it, finding opportunities to take advantage of the time either shacked up inside or playing in the winter wonderland outside.
This year I chose inside, mostly by circumstance as a lingering winter cold had gotten the best of me. Limited by the ability to go nowhere, my pantry’s state of scanty provisions, and my body’s delayed recovery, I made a butternut squash soup. I am a sucker for pureed soups. I love the concentrated flavor without the complexity of multiple textures. Plus, hot soup = cold medicine. Christine Snow Day 1, Blizzard 0.
This is a satisfying three ingredient soup that could be enjoyed in its simplicity, or as a solid base for exploring soup garnish country. I used pepitas, lime, and cilantro fixin's here, as that's what I had on hand. But also try it with apples, bacon, and a tangy sour cream or cheese. Or a knob of butter, pumpernickel croutons, and pears. Or just a few flecks of thyme and a healthy drizzle of good olive oil. Either and all ways, it will brighten you up on even the coldest day.
Squash Soup Guidelines:
Peel, deseed and dice a medium sized butternut squash into 1-inch pieces.
Dice a yellow onion into 1-inch pieces.
Crush a few cloves of garlic and rough chop the cloves a few times.
In a large soup pot, over medium heat, add a little bit of olive oil and cook the onion and garlic in it until translucent, like 5 -10 minutes.
Add the squash and cook a few minutes more.
Add enough cold water to just barely cover the squash.
Simmer until squash is tender -- maybe 20-30 minutes?
If you are lucky enough to own a Vita Prep blender, puree the soup until it is luscious and smooth.
If you are just blessed with a humble hand blender, like me, blend the soup in the pot until it is as smooth as you can get it with a hand blender. Pour the soup through a fine mesh strainer if you want a more uniform consistency, but it’s not necessary.
Season the soup with salt and/or black pepper to your liking.
Blizzard garnishes: add toasted salted pepitas, a squeeze of fresh lime juice, some torn leaves of cilantro, and more black pepper before eating. It really ties the soup together. If you wanna get fancy, zest a bit of the lime in there too.