Friday, October 27, 2006

butternut squash, smoked sausage and corn soup

The fabulous Alysha over at The Savory Notebook recently blogged about this soup (that's her photo of it, used with her permission), just as I was posting my plea for butternut recipes. I was excited to try it, because the Huz and I are both nutso for sausages. I have lots of recipes using all kinds of sausage; in fact, may I please point you to a wonderful brand? McKenzie Country Classics bills itself as "Vermont's Original Purveyor of Specialty Meats." I don't know about that, but I do know that when I make gumbo, it's tastiest when I use their kielbasa.

But getting back to the soup: I hadn't intended to try it quite this soon. I just recently made my much-in-demand curried pumpkin soup with mushrooms, and the Huz had it for lunch three times this week. I wasn't sure he would want to eat pumpkin soup for lunch and then come home to butternut soup. But I discovered that some of the beautiful squish sitting on my windowsills are looking a little peaked. See how wrinkly this one is? I'm suspecting we left them out in too-cold weather so they got frostbitten, although I always thought butternuts could take a light frost and keep on tickin'. I guess I thought wrong!

So I cut into one to see if they would still be good. And they were! At least for now. But I probably need to use them up sooner rather than later. (Fortunately, fewer than half are like this. The rest will go into the cellar and be used gradually through the winter.) So I was off & running with this soup recipe of Alysha's.

As I said, I was very interested in trying it. The Huz was slightly less so. When confronted with unusual combinations of things, like squash and sausage, he can be a tad cautious. Not negative, exactly, but not exactly enthused either.

And that's all changed now.

Wowowow! Is this a yummy soup! I did make some adjustments, based on ingredient availability (I had no wild rice nor half-and-half) or preference. So, please take a look at Alysha's original recipe, and then come back and I'll tell you what I changed, in case you'd like to follow my crooked path.

Back already? My, we're speedy, aren't we? Did you even look at the recipe? I only ask because if you didn't, the rest of this will be gibberish to you and so I won't feel offended if you decide to stop reading right here. (Note added later: I decided to write up this recipe with my changes here. Below is a description of the changes I made, with my reasons.)

OK, so for those of you still with me, here's what I changed.
  • Since I didn't have any wild rice, I substituted basmati rice for the wild, and rather than putting it in the soup, I served it on the side. We scooped the rice into our bowls and poured the soup over. I was afraid otherwise it would get mushy. (Actually, I ate mine without the rice and it didn't seem like any sort of deprivation to me!)
  • I substituted evaporated milk for the half & half. I often do that for cream soups. It is far less likely to separate or curdle if the soup gets hot, and it has only 1 gram of fat per tablespoon as compared to 2 for half & half.
  • I used less broth. The total in the original recipe calls for 12 cups of chicken broth, and uses 4 to cook the wild rice. I used one 14-oz can of chicken broth for my basmati rice, one in the squash puree, and only two more in the soup, for a total of 8 cups.
  • I used 3½ pounds of squash, and rather than peeling and cubing it before cooking it, I halved it lengthwise, cooked it with the seeds still in it, and then scooped out the seeds and scooped out the squash right into the food processor. And I didn't have time to let it cool, so it went right into the food processor hot, and right into the stockpot hot too.
  • I used my secret pepper weapon: ground white pepper. It has such a nice, gentle pepper flavor that I can use lots of it without burning my palate. And it is less noticeable visually in light-colored food. I love white pepper! It's a bit softer than black peppercorns, though, so it doesn't grind nicely in my pepper grinder. I find I'm better off buying it already ground. So I substituted that for the freshly ground black pepper the recipe calls for.
  • Because I used regular kielbasa, I didn't use olive oil when sauteeing it, and I didn't add any salt during cooking until the whole soup had come together. Then I salted lightly, perhaps ½ teaspoon did it for me.
Alysha, thank you so much for the inspiration, and I hope you don't mind that I took a bit of a crooked path with your beautiful recipe! (I guess I'm like Kalyn, who says she can never make a recipe as it's written.) (Alysha comments that it's really Emeril's recipe.) (Ok, enough parenthetical remarks. The end!)

1 comment:

JB said...

Thaks for the squash ideas, I have a friend coming for dinner in a few days, I'm hoping to make a buffet o' squash recipes. Thanks.