Chef Peter Webster – Bouquet Garni
Autumn is soup weather! It is one of the ultimate comfort foods. Sitting down to a bowl of hot, homemade soup brings back memories of childhood. My mom used to make soup out of everything. With five hungry kids, soup was a staple and no food was wasted.
Homemade soup has it all over the canned variety. Taste, nutrition and low sodium are a few of the benefits. One of my favourites is butternut squash soup. Butternut squash has an hourglass shape, is a beige colour on the outside, has bright orange coloured flesh inside and the taste is sweet and earthy. Normally, I cut the squash lengthwise, take out the seeds, lightly brush the skin with oil and bake the squash, cut side down in a 400º oven for about 45 minutes. The roasting gives a more robust taste to the squash.
For a microwave alternative, pierce the squash with a fork all over, lightly oil it, and bake on high in the microwave at 5-minute intervals until the squash is soft. Let the squash cool, then peel.
1 butternut squash (about 2 to 3 lbs) (prepared as mentioned above)
2 tbsp butter
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 potato, peeled and diced
1 clove of garlic, peeled and smashed
1 stalk of celery
4 cups of chicken or vegetable stock, or water
2 cups of milk
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Melt the butter in a large pot. Sautée the onion and carrot for about 6 to 8 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and celery and stir for another 2 minutes. Add in the squash, stock, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and let simmer for 20 minutes until all the vegetables are soft. Puree using a blender.
Put the puree back into the pot and add the milk. Bring soup to a simmer and taste to adjust the seasoning. Enjoy this flavourful bowl of soup.
(Serves about 6 persons).