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No Picky Eaters Here

Happy Birthday, Heather! Make the hubs make it a good one. ;-)

Show of hands from those that have picky eaters in the house. Good! We're all in the same boat. I think every family has one; it's some kind of unwritten requirement. My picky eater is my husband. Being married to me and being a picky eater don't really go together, though, so I have made it my personal mission to find ways to cook foods that Mike "knows he doesn't like" in ways that he realizes he does. Quite possibly my greatest accomplishment: Squash.

I love squash, I really do. I love it in all its forms and it's one of the things I really look forward to in autumn. Mike has long been convinced that he doesn't like it. He's ascribed this to it's texture, saying that it's mushy. I tend to disagree with this because he likes lots of other mushy items. The best example of this is mashed potatoes. If you follow this weekly feature, you know I'm a farmer's market girl, and the farms around here are just overflowing with butternuts, a variety my husband finds hilarious. Boys. Anyway, despite cries of anguish at the idea, as soon as the cooler weather set in, I was set on trying some great squash soup recipes.

Butternut Squash Soup
Courtesy Claire Robinson

1 (3 lb) butternut squash
Extra-virgin olive oil, for roasting, plus 2 tablespoons
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
2 shallots, chopped
1 qrt low-sodium chicken stock
2 tsp curry powder (mild or spicy)

Preheat the oven to 375° F.

Cut the squash in half through the stem and remove the seeds. Drizzle the cut edges with oil, season with salt and pepper, and put it, cut side down, on a baking sheet. Roast until very soft, about 1 hour. Remove the squash from the oven, turn the halves over and let them stand until cool enough to handle. Scoop the flesh from the shell, into a bowl and discard the shell.

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven with a lid, heat the 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until softened, about 6 minutes. Add the squash flesh, chicken stock, and curry powder and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until the squash is broken down, about 10 minutes.

Cool the squash mixture for about 5 minutes before adding it to a blender. Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth, transferring the puree to a clean saucepan as you work. Season the soup with salt and pepper, to taste, and simmer a few minutes over medium heat to combine the flavors. Ladle the soup into serving bowls and serve immediately.

I either forgot to or was too busy to get any pictures of the process, but at least I got some at the end. I paired my soup with some really yummy cheddar biscuits (I'm a hardcore ripper and dipper) and had a bottle of hard cider to wash it down. So amazing. It was like eating autumn itself. Seriously.

Fall Squash & Sausage Soup

1 medium butternut, Hubbard or other fall squash, peeled, seeded and cut into large dice
2 tbsp olive oil, plus 1 tsp
1 tbsp butter
2 large onions, cut into large dice
6 cloves garlic
1 cup Tennessee dry red wine
8 cups chicken stock
1 lb Tennessee hot sausage, crumbled
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp hot sauce
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
2 tsp chopped fresh oregano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place squash on a roasting pan. Toss to coat with 2 tbsp of olive oil and bake until tender and slightly caramelized (25-30 minutes). Heat butter in a large stockpot over medium-high heat until hot. Add onions and saute until tender and browned. Add garlic, roasted squash and wine and cook over high heat until reduced by one-half. Add stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat remaining teaspoon of olive oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook until it is browned. Drain fat. Strain squash mixture through a fine sieve. Puree solids and return puree to stockpot. Stir in remaining ingredients and heat thoroughly. Ladle into individual soup bowls and garnish with homemade croutons. Yield: 6-8 servings.

Here's an example of the type of haul I like to bring home from the farmer's market. I picked up a box of assorted veggies the other week, which included more squash. Did I mention that I love squash. :-) Oh, look! More cheesy bread!

Butternut squash skin is a little thick, so you have to show it who's boss, but once you get the hang of it, it's pretty fast work. I also recommend slicing your squash long-ways and then short-ways. It goes a lot faster that way.


After. Roasted squash smells so good. Yankee Candle, you may want to start looking into Roasted Autumn Squash as your next seasonal candle. Don't worry, I take checks. :-)

These are another story. I don't know what it was, but my onions were really pungent that day. I actually had to leave the kitchen a few times, it got that bad. They do make foods delicious, though.

Fast forward through the rest of the steps. The wine reduced really quickly, by the way, so be aware. I just ended up using my immersion blender to blend up the broth and veggies, which made things lightning fast. Whoosh!

This soup was even better than the last one! Funny, cheesy bread appears here too. Are you sensing a trend in my soup-serving? :-)

So you've probably already figured that I loved both these dishes, but what did my husband think? *Drum roll* He loved them too! The Sausage and Squash Soup even made it onto the coveted Family Favorites list! This is a big deal, people. I WIN! I even got Mike to eat sweet potatoes later on in the week by slicing them up like fries, roasting them up, and sprinkling them with a little salt. For a man that "hates sweet potatoes", he sure ate up a bunch of those sweet potato fries. :-)

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. If the picky eaters in your house say they don't like something, just use it in a different form. There's no hiding in these recipes, no lying, no tricks, just brilliant imagination.

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