Thursday, November 3, 2011

#savethanksgiving (Plus a Recipe for Butternut Squash Soup)

I am on a one-woman mission to save Thanksgiving.  (#savethanksgiving) Over the years I've noticed that Christmas seems to come earlier and earlier.  I'm pretty sure things hit an all-time low this year when I saw tinsel in a local Duane Reade drug store on October 5th(!!).  

Before you get the wrong idea you should know this about me:  I am, quite possibly, the biggest "Christmas-loving Jew"™ you will *ever* meet.  Ask anyone who knows me.  I deck the halls. I am jolly. I don gay apparel.  I make cookies.  I listen to music.  I have a TREE (well I am married to someone who isn't Jewish but I am so very happy for the excuse to have a tree!).  And, mom, before you freak out, Chanukah always gets equal treatment around these parts.

But Thanksgiving has always been and will always be my favorite holiday.  Long before I discovered my love of food and cooking I adored Thanksgiving.  I mean, really, what's not to love? It's a holiday that is solely dedicated to the art of eating.  I have fond childhood memories of watching the Thanksgiving Day Parade in my pajamas while delicious smells wafted through the house.  And, although I have since discovered more complex and ingredient-laden recipes, I still make my mother's cranberry sauce because without it it's just not Thanksgiving. 

In my one-woman effort to #savethanksgiving, I am going to use the month of November to post some seasonal recipes that will hopefully make it onto your Thanksgiving table.   This first one is a crowd pleaser which can me made a few days ahead and is a great start to any meal or a meal in itself paired with some crusty bread and a green salad on a cool fall evening.

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup with Coconut Milk
Yields approximately 3 quarts

2 TBS oil (canola, olive, grapeseed - whatever you prefer)
1 1/2 cup of diced onion (about 1 large onion or 2 medium onions)
2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 1 /2" piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
1/4-1/2 tsp ras el hanout (or whatever spice you choose to add - curry would work well as would cinnamon but I would add more cinnamon as both ras el hanout and curry have more spicy kick.  I buy ras el hanout at Fairway in NYC but you can order it from a variety of sources )
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 medium butternut squash, peeled and diced with the seeds reserved
4 medium apples, peeled, cored and diced salt and pepper to taste
1 cup of low-fat coconut milk

  1. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a pot that can hold all of the ingredients.
  2. Add in the onions and saute 2-3 minutes until they are just translucent.
  3. Add in the garlic and ginger and saute for about a minute until they are fragrant.
  4. Add in the ras el hanout or spice of your choice and stir to coat the vegetables with it and saute another minute more.
  5. Slowly pour in the stock and bring the mixture to a boil.  Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Add in the apples and squash and allow the mixture to return to a boil.  
  7. Cover and reduce the heat so the soup is simmerig gently.
  8. Allow the soup to cook for about 45 minutes until the squash is softened.  Don't worry that the apples will cook at a faster speed.
  9. Working in batches puree the soup in a blender with the coconut milk.  
  10. Return the soup tyo the pot to gently reheat.  Taste and adjust seasoning to you liking.  
  11. Serve, garnished with the roasted seeds (if you'd like).

For roasted squash seed garnish:
  1. Preheat your oven to 350˚F.  
  2. Separate the seeds from the stringy squash innards (I find a colander and running water work best).
  3. Dry the seeds and toss with a little olive oil and salt.
  4. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet (I line it with parchment paper to prevent sticking).
  5. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes until lightly browned and crunchy.  Check them every few minutes and shake the pan to ensure even browning.  They may take more or less time depending on their freshness, water content, your oven, etc.  Just don't let them burn!
  6. The seeds will keep well in an air-tight container.

1 comment:

Respect the Bird said...

Hey Melissa - You don't have to be on a one woman mission - we would love you to join our team at!! We are also on a mission to save Thanksgiving from Christmas commercialism! Check out our Blogger Toolkit ( where there is some fun stuff for your blog that you can use to help push this mission forward! We would love for you to take the pledge and help spread the word!! -Respect the Bird Team