Julie's Butternut Squash Soup
This recipe came from my lovely friend, Julie. We first met in the fall, when our little girls were babies, and we spent their first Halloween together. It was raw and wet outside, and I was a sleep-deprived, sore-boobed, somewhat lonely new mama, but in her living room she had a fireplace going, a pumpkin candle lit, coffee brewing, and a bag of goodies ready for the girls. I left feeling warm through and through. I discovered that day that she is one of those truly hospitable people who puts you at ease and creates a welcoming home where you want to linger. I feel this way every time I walk into her house. And yet, she is one of the busiest mamas I know, juggling a career, three kids, sports, family commitments, etc. She somehow makes it all happen and then some. This soup is part of the magic she works: it is easy, healthy, comforting, and beautiful.
She and her family moved to New England a few years back, and my daughter and I have taken a girls’ road trip to visit them the past two Septembers. I love the history of early America, the bonding time with my oldest, the reminiscent chats, and the new adventures we all have together. The combination of friends, foliage, and food on these trips (hello, lobster rolls!) leaves me full, body and soul. Catching up with her over steamy mugs while the girls giggle and play in the background relaxes and recharges me (as do the hotel pillows and absence of housework), and I think a slightly improved version of me comes home to my boys.
The pandemic has stolen our visit this year, so on this cold, rainy day I am stirring up a pot of her soup and feeling grateful for the food and relationships that nourish us. I have changed her recipe only a little to reflect my tastes, as there is not much room to improve upon it. Whip some up when those leaves start to crunch. Then share it with a friend.
Julie's Butternut Squash Soup
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chunked
1 large butternut squash, peeled and chunked
3 carrots, peeled and chunked
3 stalks celery, with leafy tops, roughly chopped
1 tbsp dried sage
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cartons (32oz) chicken stock
2 tbsp cream cheese (optional)
Heat butter and oil in a large stockpot. Add the onion, sweet potato, squash, carrots, and celery. Sweat the vegetables for 5-10 minutes (just chop and drop as you go). Sprinkle in the seasonings (I would add just a little salt and pepper at this point and adjust later) and pour in the stock. The liquid should just cover the veggies, so add more or less depending on what you have in the pot. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 45 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Turn off heat, add the cream cheese if using and hit it with an immersion blender. If you don’t have one, you can transfer in batches to a regular blender, just be careful to only fill it up halfway. Add more salt and pepper or thin with more stock if needed. Serves 6.