After a string of cloudy, muggy days, the humidity broke, and a cold front brought rainy, chilly fall weather to Austin. Not that I’m complaining – my East Coast friends and family have been tolerating this weather for a month already. And let’s be honest – I see most things as an opportunity to cook or eat, weather changes included. So I woke up to the gray drizzle this morning, and thought soup was in order. This soup is easy and tastes luxurious, in spite of actually being very healthful. The milk makes it velvety, rich and perfect for a cold afternoon.
Thanks for Rachel for inspiring this recipe. She told me she had made an easy sweet potato-zucchini soup, so I adapted her recipe to the ingredients I had in the refrigerator. Don’t be afraid to get creative with ingredients or garnishes. Rachel added cannellini beans for protein to make a meal out of the soup; I like chopped jack cheese stirred into mine. Salty crumbled bacon would offset the sweetness of the squash nicely, or stir in al dente orzo to add texture and bulk.
-Olive oil for sauteeing
-1 large yellow onion, chopped
-Butternut squash (about 2 lbs), peeled, seeded and cubed
-Any other squash you have lying around -I used a local sunburst squash – peeled, seeded and chopped
-1 orange bell pepper – quartered
-1 clove garlic, chopped
-1 cup chicken stock, or vegetable stock if you want a vegetarian soup
– 2/3 cup milk (I used skim with a splash of half and half – you could go richer or lighter depending on the milk you use, but if you use cream, you must add it after the blending step! It will curdle if you simmer it.)
– Salt and pepper to taste
1. Heat olive oil in a large nonstick pot. Saute onion over medium-low heat until translucent. Try to avoid browning the onion at this point. **Tip: To sweat onions faster, add a sprinkle of salt – the salt draws moisture out of the onion!
2. Add the squash, zucchini, bell pepper, and garlic. Sautee on medium-low heat until soft, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally and scraping browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
3. At this point, pull out the bell pepper quarters, and peel them. The peel should come away from the flesh easily. Return them to the pot.
3. Add the milk and stock. Stir, reduce heat to very low, and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Don’t worry if the milk separates a little – when you blend the soup, it will all be integrated.
4. Pour the whole mixture into a blender, or use an immersion blender if you have one. Blend until completely pureed.
5. Garnish and serve!