October 13, 2010
Butternut Squash Soup with Hearth Bread
Even though it still feels like summer in Texas, I was determined to have a good outdoor fall dinner with my friends. B&C kindly offered me three gorgeous butternut squashes from their garden which inspired this soup. Peeling squashes can be a real pain, so I always cut them in half, scoop out the seeds, and roast them face-down on an oiled baking sheet before I get started. You could also choose to peel the squashes, cut them into small cubes, and boil them with the rest of the ingredients. The apples and sage help make this soup savory, but if you want to make your soup sweeter, consider adding cinnamon and orange juice.
2-3 medium-sized butternut squashes
2 medium-sized leeks (washed and sliced- bottom portion only)
1/2 cup yellow onion (chopped)
4 cloves garlic (diced)
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. earth balance
2 tart green apples (peeled and chopped)
6 cups vegetable broth (heated)
1-2 tsp. apple cider vinegar (optional)
fresh ground pepper
If you haven't discovered earth balance buttery spread yet, now is the time. It's perfect for sauteing leeks and onions and will make your soup absolutely delicious. Heat up the e.b. and oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Saute the onions and leeks for 3-5 minutes. Next add the garlic and apples and saute until apples have softened. Now toss in your squash and veggie broth and let the whole pot bubble for 20 minutes or so to let the flavors blend. Now add in the vinegar and the fresh ground pepper. Use an immersion blender or a food processor to puree to your desired texture and voila! This soup is so easy. Add salt and pepper to taste and garnish with fresh sage. Serve with hearth bread and apple pie (recipe to come).
This bread is as easy as the soup. It's an adaptation of Rose Levy Beranbaum's recipe and once you get it down, it will be one of your staple bread recipes. I like it because it never comes out heavy like some wheat breads.
3 1/2 cups bread flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. yeast
1-2 cups warm water
1 tsp. agave nectar
Stir together the flours, salt, and yeast. Stir together 1 cup of the warm water and the agave and add them to the dry ingredients. Knead the dough until it is springy and add more water as you see fit. You want the dough to come together in a ball and still be a little sticky. Place the ball of dough in an oiled bowl, cover it with a plastic bag and place it in your windowsill for an hour or so (until the dough has doubled in size). Punch the dough to deflate and shape it into a tight ball. If you're like me and don't have a baking stone, place the ball on a cooking sheet that has been oiled and covered with cornmeal. At this point, pre-heat the oven to 475 and place a low dish filled with water on the bottom rack of your oven. In 20 minutes, or once your oven is hot, coat the surface of the ball with whole wheat flour, make an X-shaped slash on the top of the bread and place in the oven. Bake at 475 for 10 minutes then decrease the temperature to 425 and bake for an additional 20 minutes or until the bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when knocked. I usually spritz the oven with cool water every 5-10 minutes to ensure a nice crumb.