Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Slow-Cooker Butternut Squash Soup

My wonderful parents gave me a slow cooker for Christmas and this was the first recipe I tried in it. Smooth, creamy, and just a tad sweet, this is a perfect winter or rainy day soup.  If you don't have a slow-cooker, I'm sure this would be just fine simmering on the stove for a few hours.

Active Time: about 40 minutes
Total Time: 7-9 hours
Makes 6-8 servings

Ingredients:
1 butternut squash, about 2.5 lbs
4 Tbsps olive oil, divided
2 medium onions, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
2 garlic cloves, smashed, peeled
32 oz chicken broth, or vegetable broth, if you prefer
2 small apples, peeled, cored and cubed (I used a Granny Smith and an Arkansas Black apple)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 C heavy cream

Special Equipment: 5 qt slow-cooker or larger; immersion blender or stand blender.

Procedure:
Preheat the oven to 400F. Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and stringy pulp. Brush or rub the inside of the squash with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and place cavity-side down on a baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the squash is tender. When cool enough to handle, peel the squash and chop into pieces and add to the slow-cooker.

While the squash is roasted, heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the remaining tablespoons of olive oil. Add the garlic and cook until lightly browned and fragrant. Remove the garlic form the pan and add the onions, celery, and all of the seasonings, cooking until the vegetables have softened. Deglaze the pan with the broth and stir to combine.

Add the vegetables in broth and apples to the slow-cooker.  Cook on low heat for 6 to 8 hours. When you're ready to eat, add the 1/4 cup cream and blend the soup with an immersion blender (or in small batches in a blender).  Enjoy with some good bread for dippin'.

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