Tuesday, January 29, 2008


B.S. - It stands for (well, you know), right? Wrong! It stands for Butternut Squash! And what do you do with Butternut Squash? You make soup with it, of course. Tasty Butternut Squash soup. With Brown Sugar cinnamon croutons! Mmmmm, tasty! And that ain't no B.S., if you know what I mean.

B.S. soup is ridiculously easy to make. It's so simple that I almost didn't want to post it here because that would be like writing a post about how to boil a pot of water; seems too obvious. But obvious or not, here it is, and it really is so easy, and so good, and it doesn't take long to make at all. And the croutons are a great snack by themselves! Holy cow, not only could you eat them like cereal for breakfast, but they'd also make an awesome stand-in for popcorn in the evening.
Now, for some strange reason, almost every B.S. soup recipe I've ever come across is made with chicken stock, which I don't get. Why use it? I know, I know, you want a savory liquid of some sort to be added to the mix, but why is chicken stock the hands down favorite choice? I'm not saying poultry and butternut squash don't go together, just not in my B.S. soup. (I think Emeril's even got a version made with sausage, which, not surprisingly, I've heard is not very good.) Maybe I'm just weird or something, but I don't even use veggie stock.
Here's my roster (in no particular order of amount or importance):

Butternut Squash
Fresh ginger
Brown sugar
Heavy cream
More butter
2% milk

I think that's everything. (I made it one time with sour cream for some reason, but didn't really notice much difference, so I figured I'd leave it off the list.) Nutmeg, allspice, cloves- all probably very tasty too, but I usually opt out on those. Definitely worth experimenting with, though.
Ok, first the extremely short version- pretty much all you have to do is mince up some ginger...

and heat it in lots of butter in a big 'ol pot until it's fragrant...

and then throw everything else in...

until it tastes the way you want it to. Which is pretty much how I do it. But let me break it down just a little bit more.
As you can see in the photos, I use the frozen cube kind of squash. Mainly because that's what they give us at the restaurant. At home, if I had time, I'd go for the fresh stuff and carve it up myself. (I haven't actually done it yet, so I'm not sure, but I think you'd get better carmelization in the oven when you bake it than with the little frozen cubes.) The bags we get are 2 kilos each (4.4 lbs) and I use 3 bags per batch. It really is not as much as it sounds like. Usually works out to around 2 gallons of soup (which also is not as much as it sounds like!). Ok, so I take that 6 kilos of squash and spread it evenly on two sheet pans and pop it into a 500 degree oven. Takes around 30-40 minutes, I think. Whenever it gets all soft, and the bits around the edges of the pan start to get brown and burned, like this...

While that's doing its thing in the oven, I get out the big-ass pot. I think mine's a 5-gallon job- more than I need, but in my kitchen it's either too much or not enough. Throw in a bunch of butter (I use unsalted 'cause that's what we have on hand, but I don't think it matters much) and toss in the ginger. In the first ginger pic up top, that's something like 6 tablespoons. Possibly a bit too much, but I liked it anyway. Heat it until it's nice and fragrant, but don't saute it- you don't want it to brown like the squash in the above pic. Check on the squash in the oven to make sure it looks all pretty, like this-

When it's ready, take some and put it on a spatula and try to get artsy with it, like this-

Then toss it all in the pot and start adding the rest of the goodies, like this-

As you can see, I used a fair amount of butter- that's about a half-pound showing, but I think I added more later. As for how much to add of what, there really is no magic formula here. I use heavy cream because we always have a lot of it on hand, and I use the 2% milk to cut it down a little bit. (I'm sure half and half alone would work great, but we usually only have that in those little teaspoon-sized single serving disposable cups, and I'm not about to open dozens and dozens of those!) I never measure anything, really. Just eyeball it. And I usually don't even taste it until I've added a little of everything!

And somehow it all turns out delicious.

But here's the main guideline I try and follow- be careful about going overboard on stuff. I love cinnamon (and butter and cream and salt...) but when I make this, I want the flavor of the squash to be the star of the show, and everything else to accent it. So I just try and go kind of light on everything, at least at first. You can always add more later. Usually I add the cream first, then the milk. Then comes the honey, salt, and cinnamon. Then more butter. I have brown sugar and cayenne on the list, but a lot of times I don't bother to add them. If I do, it's only very little of each. I find that most of the adjusting I need to do is with the milk and cream. I want it creamy, but not too rich; thin, but not watery.
You can use your immersion blender on this one if you like, but it mixes up so easily that a regular old wire whip will also do the job no problem.

Then, when you get it exactly to your liking and it tastes sooo perfect that you just can't stand it and you really have to eat it now or you'll get cranky and hit somebody- pour some into a bowl, bust out those croutons you made earlier, and dive in...

or pose it for a photo, like this-

(It helps if you have a cool looking wire table to set it on.)

Ok, about those croutons...

I'll post about them at a later date, but they're very simple to make. Here's a list of ingredients I use:

White bread (a sturdy kind, like a hoagie bun)
Brown sugar
White sugar


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