Butternut Squash Soup

Well this week has lived up to be as busy as expected!  I've practically lived at the library, so thank goodness for sack lunches and dinners.  A recent favorite weekday meal has been my Barley Veggie Medley.  My roommate informed me that she did not think it looked appetizing, but I beg to differ.  It's a super simple mixture of cooked barley, roasted brussel sprouts, and chopped celery, carrots, and green onions.  Top it off with some fresh ground pepper, and zap it in the microwave if you want.  It's a perfectly filling mid day meal.  I'll feature this recipe with pictures sometime this weekend or possibly next weekend.

As a new feature to my blog, check out the poll to the left on what your three favorite greens this season are!  I'll take the top three choices after the poll closes next Friday and feature a few holiday recipes with them the week before Christmas!

The recipe for today is Butternut Squash Soup.  I made it earlier this week to have leftovers to get me through the week.  Be warned, if you use whole butternut squash, and not pre-cut cubes from the store, it will take quite a while to peel and cut the squash.  Given that I have a slight handicap of a bandaged finger with stitches, it took me a good 45 minutes wrestle two butternut squashes to get them finally ready for the soup.  The soup turned out nice and creamy when blended, but for future recipes I would add more vegetable broth and make it stretch a little farther.  Enjoy!

Butternut Squash Soup
2 medium sized butternut squashes, peeled, seeded, and cubed (approx. 8-9 c)
8-10 c vegetable broth
2 c white beans, drained and rinsed
1 sweet or yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 c chopped mushrooms (I used portobello)
1 tsp minced ginger
1 T ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:  In a large saucepan or dutch oven, saute the onion and ginger in a small amount of water.  Once onions become tender, add mushrooms and saute for an additional 5 minutes.  Add the cubed butternut squash and beans into the saucepan, then add enough vegetable broth to cover all the other ingredients.  For me this was about 8 c, but I would probably use 10 c next time.  Bring to a simmer and cover.  Simmer for an additional 25 minutes, or until the squash cubes are tender.  Turn off heat and allow to cool from a simmer.  In a blender, or with an immersion blender, blend the soup in batches until all is creamy.  Return to the saucepan, stir in seasonings, and reheat to serve.

Amy's notes:  In the future I might be a it more creative with this soup, such as adding well chopped kale at the end until it is nicely wilted, or maybe keep the mushroom pieces whole and add them at the end as well.  This is a very nice base creamy soup that is great on its own, but definitely has room for experimentation, so get creative if you like!  I served my soup topped with ground black pepper and some cayenne pepper and with a grilled portobello mushroom with  red pepper hummus, lettuce, and green onions wrapped in steamed collard greens.  So yummy!
This weekend I will be traveling home to Spokane to spend the weekend with some hometown friends and shopping with my mom.  I actually haven't gone shopping at all this Christmas season, unless you count some amazon.com purchases.  Because money is in short supply this year for me, as I have just payed off some college loans, I will be making several homemade presents this year.  I got this idea from my sister-in-law who gifted some of us with a lovely braided bread, vodka pasta sauce, unique noodles, and fruit preserve.  I am not good at making anything like that, so I will be making a large batch and canning my Spicy Thai Peanut Sauce, and canning it to give with a small recipe book with ideas of how to use it, like on Thai pizza, with noodles or rice, and as a dipping sauce.  This will be my first time canning anything, so I am a bit intimidated.  I'm sure I will make a post when it comes time about my successes and failures with this endeavor.

Do you have any canning advice for me?  How should I decorate the jars once they're sealed? 

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