Monday, October 31, 2011

Culinary Smackdown - Winter Squash

Jen over at Our Good Food Life is hostessing this month's culinary Smackdown.  You can find challenge details on her blog. 

So for this challenge, I wanted to go the soup route for a couple of reasons.  First, I was thinking of a butternut squash and champagne soup I had about 15 years ago at a local restaurant and winery - the Renault Winery in Hammonton, NJ.  This soup was so amazing that I remember it 15 years later.  Alas, they have changed the restaurant since then and don't have the amazing meals they once served.  And after perusing the recipe sites, I was unable to find anything that resembled this soup.  I had to give it up.

Second, I wanted something on the sweet side, so I found this recipe at http://www.allrecipes.com/ - Butternut and Acorn Squash Soup.  I read a bunch of the reviews and made some changes accordingly.  This is what I ended up with:

Butternut and Acorn Squash Soup


Ingredients

• 1 butternut squash, halved and seeded
• 1 acorn squash, halved and seeded
• 3 tablespoons butter
• 1/4 cup chopped sweet onion
• 1 quart chicken broth
• 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
• 1/2 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
• 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• ground cinnamon to taste (optional)
• fresh parsley, for garnish

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Spray PAM on the cut side of the squash halves and place cut side down in a baking dish. Bake 45 minutes, or until tender. Remove from heat, and cool slightly. Scoop the pulp from the skins. Discard skins.

2. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat, and sauté the onion until tender.

3. In a blender or food processor, blend the squash pulp, onion, broth, brown sugar, cream cheese, pepper, and cinnamon until smooth. This may be done in several batches.

4. Transfer the soup to a pot over medium heat, and cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through. Garnish with parsley, and serve warm.



My starting ingredients in an artsy-fartsy Fall picture on the deck.  The Pudge will be turning that pumpkin into a jack-o-lantern this Halloween Weekend.

Butternut and Acorn Squash from the local Produce Junction.


They were tough to cut, but had great color.

I sprayed the cut side with PAM and roasted them in the oven for almost an hour.

I sauteed the onions and mixed everything in a pot with my immersion blender.  I love this machine.  No more exploding blenders of death.

Lastly, I wanted soup for a chilly Saturday afternoon - BLOCK PARTY!  Last year, one of my neighbors decided to revive the decades-gone block party tradition of our cul-de-sac street.  And she decided that a spring and fall party was in order.  Out of 15 houses on the street, we had 10 families participate (plus 2 that no longer live on the street).


Here is my soup in all it's crock-potted glory with a chopped parsley garnish.

Here the fractured-finger Mrs is ladling the creamy goodness in what could be called our block soup kitchen.

MMMMMM - soupy goodness!

One neighbor made these "lady fingers".  They were a little dry but cool to look at.  The kids liked them (too much nose picking going on though).

We had a Guess the  Weight of the Pumpkin Contest.  In what turned out to be the big controversey of the night, the winning number weight was 38 pounds, followed by a correction by the neighbors husband to 28 pounds (I told you 28 pounds when I weighed it!).  So 28 pounds took the pumpkin and 38 pounds took a consolation decoration, which the Mrs won.

There was also pumpkin painting for the kids.


Followed by marshmallow roasting in a fire pit in the center of the cul-de-sac.  Probably not the smartest thing to do with all the leaves around, but we had been drinking and it seemed right at the time.

Anyway, the soup was a huge hit.  Sweet (but not too), creamy and hot.  You could also taste the onion and cinnamon in the background.  I had at least five people ask for the recipe (which I promptly emailed the next day).  If I were to make it again, I might add a little bourbon to the onion saute step because I think that would add nice flavor.

16 comments:

grumpygranny said...

Oh, that soup looks divine!! I like the mixing of the 2 squashes. I'll definitely give this a try--might be my dish for Thanksgiving potluck. And yes, I did experience the "exploding blender of death" last night. No fun! Great job, Buzz!

GG

Troll said...

What you made looks very good but I hope you won't give up on finding that squash-champagne soup recipe. I had that ONCE too, it was awesome, and since your post reminded me of that, I'll try to find one too.

moi said...

Mmmm . . . 'bout the only way I'll eat any kind of squash is in a soup. Or a pie. Or mixed into ice cream. Never mind. I try to be a picky eater, but it doesn't work. (Those lady fingers look pretty darn gross, though. I'll pass on those.)

Happy Culinary Smackdown, Haiku Monday, and Halloween.

Stephanie said...

Your soup looks delicious. While butternut squash isn't my absolute favorite I do really love acorn squash. A small tip that I've picked up over the years is to place a whole squash in the microwave for a few minutes and then go to cut it...it's softer and way easier and safer to cut. Great job with the soup!

steph

Boxer said...

bwahahahahaah. Exploding blender of death NO KIDDING. I want one of those blender-wand-things and I also want to find the recipe for the squash and champagne soup. What a nice tradition to have a block party. We can't do that around here this time of year.... RAIN/RAIN/RAIN.

I love the lady fingers. Very clever.

Happy Halloween!

Buzz Kill said...

Granny
It'll be a winner for your Thanksgiving feast.

I've only used the immersion blender a couple of times but definitely worth having. I had that pot of soup blended in 2 minutes. It also has a small food processor attachment that I used to chop the parsley.

Troll
Yeah, I've never had anything like it since. If you find a recipe, please share.

Moi
Squash isn't for everyone. But I like it better than turnips.

Steph
That makes sense. Even with a sharpened knife, those things were hard to cut down the middle. I'm lucky I didn't lose a finger.

Boxer
I have blown the tops off of a couple of blenders and that hot soup/sauce sticks like napalm. The party lasts about 3 or 4 hours, everyone gets food and drink and you catch up on the goings on in the neighborhood. It's the only time I see some of the neighbors.

LaDivaCucina said...

Mmmmmm.....I love this soup, it's a standby I've had for years, especially when living in Australia (or when I was broke!) Great job on roasting the squash, makes 'em even sweeter. Blender trick: Take the inner circle out of the lid and cover with a towel when blending. Releases built up steam, no trips to the emergency room.

Well done, Buzzy, and I love the idea of the block party and the festive food styling!

LaDivaCucina said...

Ooh yeah, let me know when you find the champagne pumpkin soup recipe!

Intuitive Eggplant said...

Sounds like an excellent soup - glad it was a hit at the block party? Did the Mrs win anything good as the consolation prize? I also love your outdoor mis-en-place shots.

Clearly we're all hoping someone finds that champagne pumpkin soup recipe. I've made squash soup with a little brandy and really liked it. Takes the, er, chill off, if you know what I mean, and it definitely adds some sweetness.

Great job, Buzz, and thanks for playing!

chickory said...

lady fingers gross me out!!!!!!!! wow - very convincing. But your soup sounds great - i love the idea of cinnamon and the oniony goodness. I need that immersion blender. the whole thing was just velvety beautiful. youre right - the colors were wonderful and that means major nutrition! well done and good luck on the smackdown!

Karl said...

Good evening Buzz Kill,

What a good soup. It's very close to a recipe Mrs.K makes. We find it quite tasty.

We had leftover lady fingers at this morning's brief. Some people just have no sense of humor.

Aunty Belle said...

oh wowowowoww! I'se in the line up fer the squash & champagne recipe too.

Buzz--I luv that ya took yore fabulous soup the the block party--what a grand good thang that is. Hope it wuz jes' cold enough to delight in hot soup. Yum .Stellar entry fer the smackdown.

I doan have n immersion blender--mebbe thas' a note to Santa, huh?

An' I doan have to tell ya' that Santa would approve of a bourbon boost to yore soup.

Aunty Belle said...

oh wait!!

I thought them lady fingers wuz hilarious--an' I would eat one--really, I would.

Jen said...

I wish I had been at this party! Thanks for entering the smackdown this month and I've got the round-up posted and the winner announced!

Buzz Kill said...

Diva
Thanks for the blender tip but I have an IMMERSION BLENDER! As for the Butternut Champagne soup, no joy. Epicuriou doesn't have it. I'm thinking about writing to Bon Appetit.

IE
The Mrs won a decoration that I think belonged to the organizer neighbor. Just what we need too because we have boxes and boxes of decoration that I now have to put back in the crawl space.

Chicky
I can't say enough about the immersion blender. Makes the job so much easier. I really want to make more cream soups and sauces.

Karl
Mrs K has it right - it's a good and easy soup. And was this the briefing to assasinate Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? Just wondering.

Aunty
It was a little cool a party time (maybe in the 40s) and I think that's why the soup went over big. Other than hamburgers and hot dogs, it was the only hot food out there.

Jen
My pleasure. I have to view your blog at home because for some reason, my company firewall won't let me see it. It must be detecting porn. Bwahahaha

LaDivaCucina said...

Happy Thanksgiving, Buzz! Hope you get a little help in the kitchen! (at least with the dishes!)