Meatless Monday: Warm Butternut Squash Soup

I’m so into soup right now. If soup isn’t the perfect food, it’s certainly in the running for the title of Perfect Winter Food. It’s easy to make, travels well, it’s usually pretty healthy, and it’s easy to throw a bunch of additional stuff into a soup recipe, either to clean out your fridge, or sneak in a couple of extra servings of vegetables. I make a big pot of soup at least once a week in the winter and take the leftovers for lunch or reheat some for dinner. I’m in the habit of finding a favorite recipe then making a few variations of it till I’m ready to move on to a new recipe. Right now, my habit is butternut squash or pumpkin soup.

David Rocco’s pumpkin soup is a simple, basic recipe that’s easily customized and takes kindly to substitutions. You can use pumpkin instead of butternut squash in this recipe, or a mixture of both.

Pumpkin (Squash) Soup
Courtesy of David Rocco
Makes 4 servings

4 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into cubes
1 potato, cut into cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Truffle oil, for drizzling

In a pot, melt the butter and add the butternut squash, potatoes, and salt and black pepper. Saute for a few minutes. Add the vegetable broth, and cook on high heat for about 5 minutes, or until the potatoes and squash are fork tender.

With a hand blender, puree the squash mixture to the desired consistency, and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the heavy cream and cook for an additional minute.

Remove the soup from the heat. Finish with the freshly grated Parmigiano cheese, and a drizzle of truffle oil. Serve immediately.

Once you master this (super-easy recipe), try the following variations:

  • Add a can of (rinsed) white beans or black beans after pureeing the soup, before you add the cream
  • Add curry powder with the squash, potatoes and salt and pepper (omit the truffle oil and Parmigiano Reggiano
  • Substitute cheddar or blue cheese for the Parmigiano Reggiano
  • Garnish the soup with dried apples
  • Make crostini: melt freshly grated Parmigiano cheese over sliced baguette, drizzle with truffle oil, float in soup for serving

Meatless Monday Mover and Shakers:

Avatar director James Cameron
During an Earth Day event where his movie Avatar was being screened, director James Cameron expressed his support of Meatless Monday, noting that our carbon footprint would be reduced if everyone resolved to go meatless once per week. The owners of popular Santa Monica restaurant (and celebrity hotspot) Locanda del Lago were in attendance and vowed to create a weekly Meatless Monday prix-fixe menu featuring produce from the local farmer’s market. The restaurant was the first in its area to make such a commitment. You don’t have to be a famous director to make a change; Meatless Monday offers a printable Meatless Monday Toolkit that anyone can use to help their favorite local eatery realize the benefits of offering meat-free specials each Monday.

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