I’m definitely too old for restaurant work, but I very occasionally do a small volunteer catering job if a friend sweetly asks. My caveats are 1. It’s during the day (unless you just want delivery of soup or stew when you’re in personal need) and for a worthy cause. My bedtime is 9pm, you see. 2. The menu is short and sweet since I have to do all of the cooking. My feet simply aren’t what they used to be. 3. The event isn’t for 100+ people. Commercial kitchen, I’m not. 4. I pick my own help. I’m all about having fun whenever I can. This week, one of those perfect jobs arrived that just about fit all of my requirements. A nearly vegetarian soup, salad, dessert lunch menu was on deck for 35 heads of local Colorado Springs non-profits, which means cook for 40. You never know when a plate will fall off a counter, a guest might bring along a friend, or someone’s starving and eats double. Best husband and sous, Dave, along with good friend/caterer Patti came along to help make it all possible as these things can’t be done alone. Huge thanks to Dave for being the master of the commercial dishwasher and to Patti who decorated the tables with vases of flowers from her own gardens. Both of them made salad, served soup, and kept everyone full and happy.
I went to bed last night thinking, “It couldn’t have gone much better than it did and it definitely could have gone a lot worse!” I think everyone enjoyed themselves and non-profits need to be well-acquainted anywhere. Nice to see these hard-working, underpaid directors with time to enjoy a good meal in the company of their peers. For me, I’d say it’s a beautiful feeling to love what I do, but even better to do it with and for precious people with whom I can laugh throughout the day. We arrived at 10:30 am and left at 4 pm for a 1pm luncheon. I sent dinner home with Patti and Dave and I ate dinner on trays sitting on the couch. I’m not sure the couch ever felt so good. Or a glass of red wine ever tasted better.
Because my friend Pauli, who was planning the luncheon, has been to my house a time or two for soup, she requested a butternut squash soup I made last December for our Bible study Christmas lunch. The original version, FRIDAY FISH: Instant Pot Coconut Ginger Soup with Grilled Shrimp, one of many butternut squash soups on the blog (scroll down below the recipe for more) had been simplified for that larger group and while I hadn’t rewritten the recipe, it was time to get that done for the blog and for me. I can’t wait for you to try this pantry-friendly meal that’s ready in under an hour because nearly everyone who tries it loves it. The new version, made with canned butternut squash, tastes just as good as the original and keeps your mouth happy with it’s perky ginger, cumin, and coconut milk profile. Should coconut milk not be your thing, you can leave it out (you might want to use some extra broth to thin the soup) or use half and half.
…Jump to Recipe
So, yes: soup! What else did we have?
Starter. I had my Green Chile-Pimento Cheese with crackers on the table when people arrived so they could chat and munch until salad was served. It’s made in a flash with an electric mixer.
I chose a Ree Drummond recipe simply because it’s very like a salad I make at home in the fall, but the food.com version includes ingredient amounts for how ever many people you’re serving. Which means I didn’t need to figure out how many pounds of greens, apples, blue cheese, and so. So simple and so luscious. I made it a time or two ahead to make sure I had everything right and the recipe held true from 4 – 40 servings with the exception of a few extra salad greens. I had just enough maple vinaigrette.
Dessert: If it’s fall, I’m making pear, apple, or plum crostate (plural of crostata in Italian!). I made the pastry last week and froze it so all I had to do was thaw it overnight in the fridge to be ready to bake in the morning. I ended up baking eight of them, one Gluten-Free, which needs some improvement. I’m on it.
But the soup (make it with pumpkin or sweet potato, too) is what you’re here for and soup is what you’ll get when you try this:
Easy Coconut-Ginger Butternut Squash Soup
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 large plump cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 ½ tablespoons grated fresh ginger
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 3 large carrots, unpeeled, trimmed, and sliced into 2-inch pieces
- ½ fennel bulb, trimmed, and sliced (optional)
- 1 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- Pinch crushed red pepper or two dashes Tabasco
- 2 15-ounce cans butternut squash (or mashed frozen butternut squash, thawed)
- 3 cups low sodium chicken broth
- ½ cup water
- 13.5 -ounce can unsweetened coconut milk such as Thai Kitchen (Comes in a Lite version for less calories.)
- ½ cup sour cream for garnish
- Thinly sliced green onion for garnish
- HEAT OIL in an 8-quart soup pot over medium flame. Add garlic and ginger; cook one minute, stirring.
- ADD VEGETABLES (onion, celery, carrots, and fennel, if using), season with salt, pepper, ground cumin, and crushed red pepper. Cook for about 15 minutes, stirring regularly, or until soft. Cover to decrease cooking time.
- STIR IN BUTTERNUT SQUASH, CHICKEN BROTH, AND WATER. Taste and adjust for seasonings. Cover, bring to a boil, uncover, and reduce heat to simmer for 20-30 minutes or until all of the vegetables are tender.
- PURÉE soup to desired texture using a handheld immersion blender or carefully in batches with a regular blender (hold lid down with a dishtowel) or food processor. (May refrigerate or freeze at this point if not serving the soup today.)
- POUR IN COCONUT MILK and heat through. If you’ve refrigerated or frozen the soup, heat to a good simmer before adding milk. Taste one last time for seasonings. Do not boil.
- SERVE HOT garnished with a small dollop of sour cream and a few slices of green onion.Store 3-4 days tightly covered in the refrigerator. If you’d like to freeze the soup, do so before adding the coconut milk. Freeze up to 10 months.
I ordered two cases. One to use for the catering gig and the other to have on hand for the winter. Of course you can buy just the two cans you need!
Other Butternut Squash Soups on More Time at the Table…
LIFE GOES ON:
Our local big buck (below) makes a return appearance to the front yard to chow down on our ornamental crab apples. He’s a handsome fellow and scares the bejesus out of our 8-year old labradoodle Rosie. Rosie, who is easily frightened even by a capital-T Tiny lizard by the way, is recovering from dental surgery. Between Tucker’s reflux (Tucker is our 13-year old Golden Retriever) and Rosie’s 6-tooth loss, I’m making homemade dog food every few days. It’s the recipe for which I’m perhaps the most famous. No humans jump up and down and run from one end of the house to the other when I cook for them, but my dogs sure do. Loving my 15-minutes of fame.
I’m so happy to have you visiting in my kitchen; it does my heart good and please know I’m grateful. Keep cooking for health, wealth, and happiness.
It’s fall and it’s time for soup, you know,