My New Year kicked off with sweet surprises.
One – Every weekend we have a fire going in the big cooking fireplace in the dining room, but yesterday Rick changed it up and had a beautiful little fire crackling away in the tiny parlor. I woke up later than usual – day 2 of a bad head cold – so the cozy fire in such a small space really made it toasty, and was much appreciated. This little room is a perfect nook for us to nestle into a country wing chair or two with a fat stack of The New York Times, and the online audio stream of my favorite public radio program – Sunday Baroque with Suzanne Bona.
Two – What’s better than a comforting bowl of hot yummy soup when it’s so cold outside and there’s a cold inside my head? We had a butternut squash hanging around the kitchen from just before Christmas, with my full intention of turning it into a creamy butternut squash soup. Well, Rick beat me to it (thank goodness), and got busy in the kitchen.
Three – So put all the parts together: The golden light of a cold late afternoon + 2 bowls of hot beautiful yellow-orange soup (with an added little kick) + a crackling fire in the parlor + an early eighteenth century tea table and a pair of country wing chairs + The New York Times + sundaybaroque.org = A perfect little supper for two to kick off the new year! Happy New Year!
New Year Butternut Squash Soup
1 large butternut squash (remove seeds and cut into 6-8 pieces)
4 medium potatoes (scrub thoroughly, remove blemishes, and cut in 1/2)
2 large onions (peel and quarter)
2 quarts chicken stock
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2-4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (to taste)
2-4 dashes of Tabasco (to taste)
1/8 teaspoon Stubb’s Liquid Smoke (available at supermarkets)
Olive Oil or Olive Oil spray
Freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large sheet pan with foil and oil lightly. Place all veggies on pan – be sure to put squash skin side down. Spray oil on top of veggies and liberally salt and pepper. Roast for about 1 1/2 hours.
On the stovetop, heat 1 quart of chicken stock. When veggies are done roasting, add to pot of chicken stock. Add more chicken stock to cover veggies. Reserve any leftover chicken stock for “as needed”.
Simmer on medium-low heat for 20-30 minutes, or until veggies are tender.
In a blender, in small batches at a time, ladle equal portions of roasted veggies and liquid. Be sure to place a towel over the top of the blender, so when the steam releases you don’t get burned. Start blender on low, then to medium, and then to high speed for about 1 minute. Pour blended soup batches into a large mixing bowl. Repeat this process until all batches are done, and return to the original pot. Add milk, brown sugar, worcestershire sauce, tabasco, and liquid smoke. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
The soup should have a smooth and creamy consistency (not watery or porridge-like). If it is too thick, add a little more chicken stock or milk.
Oh my gosh, it’s so good! What a simply beautiful – and delicious – way to kick-off the new year!