Thursday, February 4, 2010

"i should be grateful. i should be satisfied."

the food: Soup of the Week! Butternut Squash Tortilla Soup 
the song: "Sister Winter" Sufjan Stevens 

The blog started with a pile of cilantro. It's only fitting it returns with one. This cilantro went into an amazing vegan soup, but we'll get to that in a second. The satisfying soup, along with a gentle guilt trip from my mom ("I check it everyday, you know") and plenty of time inside because of the cold means I'm ready. No, things aren't perfect and yes there are still things I want to do to make this site prettier. But why sit around and wait? For better or worse I'm back. When I get ready to tinker, you'll just have to watch me do it. So let's get to it, shall we?

Punxsutawney Phil has spoken. Six more weeks of winter await us and people are not happy about it. Me neither. I'm a spoiled life-long Texan, and I expect sunshine and dresses and patio margaritas. The cold makes me fussy and anti-social. I've gone for weeks without seeing good friends. We've watched more tv (albeit really awesome tv) in the last month than we did all summer. My pajama pants will be well-worn by the time this is all over.

But winter has its benefits, too. For instance, the cold weather inspired Soup of the Week in our house. While the husband and I were eating leftover roasted butternut squash soup on New Year's Eve, he suggested we include one soup each week in our cooking plans. I love the soup resolution. Soup always leaves me feeling good, full, and healthy. If I plan it right, we have leftovers for the week that actually improve after a few days. While the weather is dreary and I'm less than inspired to do something complicated, soup of the week has become a welcomed and satisfying ritual.

This butternut squash tortilla soup was hearty and delicious. There are a few vegetables in this world that make me think I could go vegan and this soup contains two of them-- avocado and butternut squash. I'll admit I was a little skeptical of the flavor combination here. We're passionate about spice and we're also pretty attached to butternut squash. These feelings aren't to be toyed with. But the more I thought about it, the more I decided the possibility of the combination was too tempting to pass up. I'm glad I took the risk, because this soup was just wonderful. 

I served this with a black bean salad, but honestly the soup stands alone. The flavors are perfect, mingling in just the right way like any good soup should. This one is definitely going into the rotation. (By the way, I'm sorry if this doesn't look appetizing. Soup is a difficult subject to photograph.)

Butternut Squash Tortilla Soup
adapted from the Kitchn

1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
olive oil

6 corn tortillas, cut into strips
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium white onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup finely chopped cilantro, plus more sprigs for garnish
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 diced jalapeno pepper, seeds removed
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
5 cups low-sodium vegetable stock

For topping:
ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, and cubed
tortilla chips 
salsa or hot sauce

First, roast your squash. You can do this several hours or even a day or so ahead of time. Place your cubed squash in a pan large enough so they are not crowded. Give them a good splash of olive oil and toss to lightly coat. Roast at 400 degrees for about 30-45 minutes, until the squash pieces are very soft. Transfer squash and any oil to a bowl and use a potato masher or fork* to make a smooth puree. Set aside.

Heat 4 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onion, garlic, jalapeno, cilantro, and chopped tortillas and cook, stirring frequently, until onion is soft. Stir in cumin and cayenne and sauté for another minute.

Add butternut squash puree, tomatoes, and vegetable stock and stir to combine. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring every now and then to help the squash combine with the broth. After 45 minutes, turn the heat off and let the soup rest for about 15 minutes. When you're ready to eat, top with preferred ingredients** and enjoy!
*My first thought was to use a blender to puree the squash. But that just dirtied up my blender. If you've cooked your squash long enough, it should be no problem to get the right consistency with a fork or masher.
**The winning combo for me was a dollop of hot tomato-ey salsa, avocado, and chip crumbles. Despite the jalapeno and cayenne, the soup wasn't all that spicy so I liked a little extra heat stirred in.

The important thing to remember with this recipe is that it, like all soups, is easily customizable. Next time I might add another jalapeno to boost the heat. You might like less spice (or not be from Texas- ha), in which case you can start with a smaller amount of cayenne or leave out the pepper all together. You can always taste the soup mid-simmer and add as you see fit.

So there it is. Soup will undoubtedly help me get through these next six weeks. But we're throwing a cookout at the first signs of spring. No pajama pants allowed.


Update: I just received word from the husband that this soup gets much spicier after a few days. So watch out for those leftovers!

1 comment:

  1. Yea, you are back! Beautiful pics, and I love the link to National Geographic. Can't wait to cook a groundhog!

    I'm so glad this blog is going again!

    Your loyal reader and #1 fan...ab