Saturday, September 21, 2013

Butternut Soup Recipe and High Speed Internet


I know the title of the post is a little strange, or a lot strange, but I am excited! I love my house and my property but it doesn't have internet up there. Well, the internet is everywhere what I am missing is an internet service provider to allow me to get online. Of course there is dial- up but when you have been using high speed as long as I have, I don't think I could actually stand the speed of dial-up. After dial-up the next thing available is satellite, but do you have any idea how much that costs? Minimum is $99 per month not including installation charges. I heard from some of the people up there that to get a decent speed on the satellite service, they are paying over $200 a month. Are you kidding me? 
This one guy who lives in the subdivision full-time started talking to Comcast and keep going until he found someone who would look at our area. Then that person left. And he tried again and found another person and then they left... so he tried again and emailed a bunch of us to see if we would be interested in calling Comcast as well. About 15 to 20 of us did but they kept saying no. While I was on vacation and trying out a new restaurant, some of the locals there were discussing a new internet start-up using the radio tower system. He is a local guy and just getting started but I got online and found him as soon as I got back to Walnut Creek. He couldn't help me because his towers need line-of-sight and they can't see me but I told him the story. That we have a group of owners looking for internet and after I told the group about him, they all called him. So now.. he has a map where he could put his towers and I sent it to the group. The owners of the land that is useable said, sure do it... so I have hope again. If I want to live their full-time and make money from the property, I have to have internet. Will let you know!


I like to make soups because they can use all sorts of leftovers bits and pieces and once you get the basic method down, they are really easy. Today I made butternut squash soup with sweet potatoes, carrots and ginger. The basic recipe is below for you to try. 

Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Soup

When some people see these 2 items in the supermarket they often think they are too tedious to bring home and cook them unless it is for a holiday meal. But I have to tell you that I discovered butternut squash soup when a friend brought over a basic version of it for a dinner party. I didn’t think about it much after that until a few years ago, I read a magazine recipe for it and thought it looked like a good thing to try. The trick to making the soup easy was that you didn’t have to try and cut up a raw butternut squash and cube it and boil it. They are an awkward shape and really hard! Nope, you just threw the whole squash into the oven and cooked it until soft. After it cooled it was really easy to tear apart and make soup of it. So that is how I cook all my butternut squash for soup. After 3 or 4 batches of it I decided to add sweet potato to it since the oven was going anyway, why not? Turned out to be one of the moments in cooking that why not became why didn’t I do this before?
These 2 vegetables are some of the most nutrient dense foods you can eat and they fill you up which is great since I am trying to change my eating habits for the better right now.
Today – I added a couple of other items, carrots and ginger. I got them from a nice farmer from Fresno at my local farmer’s market and decided to see what would taste like and I am glad I did. The carrots add a bit of sweetness without sugar of any kind and the ginger gives it just a bit of warmth.
Here is how I made it, starting with the basic butternut squash instructions.

Basic Soup
1         Medium to Large Butternut Squash
2         Boxes  of Chicken or Vegetable Broth (8 cups)
1         large onion
2         tbls of olive oil

Spices include the usual salt and pepper to taste but I always use garlic powder in this one as well. You can make it spicy with cayenne or hot sauce but wait until it is done before doing that.
To start – Turn your oven on to 425 degrees. Put the squash on a baking sheet lined with foil, and cook until done. Usually about 40 mins but check at 30mins and every 10 mins after that. You are looking for a change in the shape so that it looks like it has collapsed inside. Remove from the oven and let it cool for at least 1 hour, or overnight. When the squash is cool enough to handle cut it open and scrape out the seeds and fibers. Then scoop out the flesh into a bowl to use for the soup.
For the soup – dice the onion and cook with the olive oil in a large soup pot. Cook until just starting to turn translucent and then add the stock and the squash. Simmer it for about 15 mins and taste for seasoning.
To finish – take the pot off the heat and get out your stick blender. Mine is one my mom gave me just after I got married. It was hers and has just done a great job. If you don’t have a stick blender you can use a regular blender if you are really careful and do it in batches. Or a hand mixer or if you have none of those, you are going to have to whisk it by hand.
Blend up the soup until it reaches the consistency and smoothness you like. Serve!

If you get this basic recipe down you can add anything to it you feel would be tasty with the squash.
For my soup today, this is what I did –
2 each medium sweet potatoes
1 inch knob of ginger
3 to 4 carrots
I cleaned and cut up the sweet potato and cooked it in the oven with the squash. To make my soup I started the same with “sweating” the onions in a bit of olive oil. I cleaned and cut up the carrots and added them to the pot with the broth. Then I peeled and diced the ginger and added it to the pot with garlic powder, pepper and a small pinch of salt. I let that boil for about 20 minutes to cook the carrots and then I added in the broken up squash and sweet potatoes. Turn the heat down and let it simmer for about 15 mins just to get everything heated up and soft. Finish with blender and season to taste.

I always make way more than I need and freeze it. It freezes really well and it rewarms really nicely.

IF you want to make this a little less healthy and little more decadent, after it cools down just a bit, stir in some cream or whole milk. Makes it really silky and delicious and if you use that for a holiday appetizer everyone thinks you slaved all day over it…. but you know better.


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