I love days like today. I woke up early and stayed in all day. Grey sweatpants, nightgown from last night, hoodie sweatshirt, slippers. Gotta love it. I continued de-glutinizing our kitchen, answered emails, and cooked. My original intention was to make Roasted Butternut Squash Soup. While it was cooking, I made a batch of basil pesto which I planned on putting in the freezer. When the soup was finished, on a whim, I swirled some of the pesto into it. Voila! It was delicious. A great combination. It confirms my desire to learn to cook without a cookbook. After cooking for lo these 31 years or so, I decided to use my instincts. And it worked. By the way, one of my most recent favorite tools is an immersion blender. It does the job of both a blender and a food processor, but it’s on a stick which you can put right into the mixture you want to blend. Plus it comes with different tools. It is a mixer and a whisk. Maybe something else too, but those are the only two I ever use. Using an immersion blender means you don’t have to pour the mixture that you want to puree into something else. You can puree it without taking it out of the original cooking pot.
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Basil Pesto Swirl
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup sliced leeks
1/4 cup chopped carrot
1/4 cup chopped celery
1 cinnamon stick
Salt & freshly ground pepper
4 cups GF chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
2 cups roasted butternut squash (see recipe below)
Basil Pesto (use your favorite recipe….I used one from the Whole Foods Market Cookbook)
Ingredients for Roasted Butternut Squash (makes about 4 cups of puree)
3 1/2 pounds butternut squash (weight after peeling and cut into 2 inch cubes)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup unsulfered dark molasses
For the soup: Heat the olive oil in a stockpot over medium heat. When hot, add the leeks, carrot, celery, and cinnamon stick. Saute until soft and just starting to brown. This should take about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the chicken stock and coriander. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about five more minutes. Add the squash, whisking to blend it with the other ingredients. Simmer 10 minutes. Remove and discard the cinnammon stick.
Using an immersion blender (see above note about this tool), puree the soup until smooth. Continue to heat on medium-low heat.
To serve, ladle soup into individual bowls. Spoon several small dollops of basil pesto into each bowl.
For the roasted butternut squash
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the cut squash into large bowl and season with salt and pepper.
Heat the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. When the butter has completely melted, add the sugar, vinegar, and molasses. Mix well and simmer over medium-low heat for 2 minutes.
Pour this vinegar mixture over the squash and mix well. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet or large baking dish. Squash should be in one layer in order for it to cook evenly. Roast for one hour, tossing the mixture halfway through the cooking time. Remove from oven. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before next step.
Transfer mixture to the bowl of a food processor and puree until smooth. Do this step in several batches, depending on the size of your food processor bowl. Use 1 1/2 cups for the soup. Freeze or refrigerate the rest for future use.