Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Butternut Squash Soup with Carmelized Onions - My Mind

After perusing a few websites that had various recipes (both vegan and non-vegan) with butternut squash as the main ingredient, I decided I would try my hand at inventing an original VEGAN recipe. I am slowly building my kitchen confidence and intuition - breaking out of my "strictly-follow-the-recipe" mentality is challenging and fun.

This recipe yielded 2 large bowls.

1 butternut squash
1/2 onion, sliced
1/2 c. cashews
3/4 to 1 c. plain soy milk
1 tsp. Better than Boullion
1/2 c. water
1/4 tsp. sage (from the spice rack, next time I'll try fresh!)
squirt of maple syrup
black and cayenne pepper to taste
parsley for garnish
1) Preheat oven to 350. Place butternut squash into a baking dish and bake for 1 hour. Let the squash cool to the point that it can be (man) handled. Peel skin then gut and toss the seeds. Slice the butternut in half; cut one half into small chunks. Reserve other half for another exciting vegan recipe. [I wrapped the other 1/2 in plastic wrap and will store in the fridge until I can think of something to do with it...any vegan-friendly suggestions?]
2) Thinly slice and caramelize onion in a bit of olive oil.
3) Blend until creamy the cashews and soy milk. Add in Better than Boullion, water, sage, and a medium squirt (how precise!) of maple syrup.
4) Add the squash cubes and blend, blend, blend! until creamy.
5) Transfer soup into a pot, toss in the caramelized onions, season with the peppers, and heat through. Garnish, if wanted, and serve immediately!

Some thoughts:

The soup was pretty good. The blended cashews lent the soup a thick, creamy texture. In the event that you wanted soupier soup, you could always add in more water until desired thinness is achieved. But I liked the viscosity of the recipe - its just a matter of personal preference, all!

I rushed the caramelization process, so my onions were not as tender or as sweet as they could have been. Next time, I won't rush the process - if I remember correctly, Martha (Stewart, of course) suggests that the process should take at least 1/2 hour. Since it was late at night, I rushed the process, and let the onion slices cook for a scant 10 minutes or so...Next time, I'll try to improve on this aspect of the recipe.

RA suggested the combination of butternut squash and sage. She is a proponent of fresh herbs - I used what I had around the kitchen at the time, which is the powdered sage from a spice rack. Next time, I'd try fresh sage.

What's Better Than Bouillon, you ask? Basically, it is a concentrated veggie paste that you add to water to make veggie broth. Alternatively, using real (homemade or store-bought) veggie broth would be an acceptable substitution.

At Raymonds, I once ordered their Chipolte Butternut Squash Soup and thought it was good, but a tad spicy. In comparison, my soup was extremely mild. Adding more black and/or cayenne and/or other type of pepper is another variation that I might play around with on a rainy day.

When heating the soup, the soup kept splattering out of the pot! Next time, I might use a lower heat for a longer length of time as to avoid the mess left on the stove.

I am excited to see if and how the flavors meld after 24 hours.

Decent soup!

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