RECIPE: Butternut Squash Soup

img_2073Making Christmas dinner is really exciting to me since it’s a good way to try new recipes on large groups of people and get all kinds of opinions.  Butternut squash is a really popular winter vegetable that I thought would make an awesome soup, so I did some searches and came across this recipe.  I was making it for 6 people, and thought that the original recipe wouldn’t make enough, so I made 1 1/2 times the original amount, which turned out to be way more than enough.  I ended up with leftovers that served as a dinner for two a few days later and we didn’t finish it then either.  This recipe is the original amount, which even if you’re making it for 6 people, is plenty.  It cooks up really nicely and reheats just as well.  The garlic needs to be roasted beforehand, which is important in giving it an extra delicious flavor.  The best part is that it’s all made in a Crockpot, which means you have plenty of time while it cooks to prepare the rest of your Christmas foods.

What You’ll Need:

1 butternut squash, peeled and diced (about 6 cups)

1 onion, diced

6 cloves roasted garlic

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 t salt

1/2 t ground pepper

1/4 t ground nutmeg

6 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup half and half

2 T fresh thyme or 2 t dried thyme

Before you prepare the soup, roast the garlic.  Cut the top off a head of olive oil, brush it with olive oil, and wrap it in foil.  Bake it at 400 degrees for about 30-35 minutes.  When it’s ready, it should be soft to touch.  Peel the cloves and use about 6 of them, more if you really love the garlic flavor.  You can use any more that you may have to whip into butter as a spread for bread, like I did.  Then, in a 4 quart Crockpot, combine squash, onion, garlic, celery, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir it all up so the spices cover the vegetables, and pour chicken broth over it. Cover the Crockpot and cook on low heat 5-6 hours or on high heat 3-4 hours, until the squash is very tender.   I had plenty of time, so I started this in the morning and cooked it on low.  Then, when it’s cooked, blend it using a hand blender, which you can do directly in the Crockpot.  If you don’t have one, you can puree it in batches in a high speed blender, until everything is completely blended and smooth.  Back in the Crockpot, add half and half and thyme, mix it into the butternut squash mixture, and cook on high for another hour.  After that, it’s ready to serve!  All I did was put the soup into bowls and top it with a few croutons, and everyone loved it!  I’ll definitely be making it again.
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