Store-Bought VS Food Network Recipe: Butternut Squash Soup

I fucking love soup, man.

Soup is the greatest food known to mankind. There’s so many different types, so many different flavors and endless possibilities as to what can be created. Some soups have grains, some have meat, some have cheese, it all depends. Some are chunky, some are creamy, and others broth-y. Honestly, you can make any kind of soup, it’s truly magical!

One soup I really love is butternut squash. It’s creamy, flavorful, and reminds me of my favorite time of the year, fall. Also, it’s orange. How many foods do you eat that are orange?!

So I decided to try and make some butternut squash soup from scratch. I love Food Network, so I usually use them for most recipes, and I found one for butternut squash soup here. While I was at Kroger getting the ingredients, I decided to pick up a box of ready-to-eat butternut squash soup to compare it to the homemade version. So I bought Imagine Creamy Butternut Squash Soup. It was just the first box of butternut squash soup I saw, so I grabbed it, I didn’t realize it was organic or anything. When I went to their website, it says it’s also vegan, kosher, gluten free, soy free, and dairy free! So that’s interesting. The homemade version was made with chicken stock and butter, so it does not meet the same qualifications as the Imagine one. The homemade one is on the right, store-bought on the left.

Anyways, I made both, and had my dad and friend taste test them. They both liked the homemade version better. The homemade version was much thinner, not creamy at all, weirdly gritty (like orange juice pulp kind of), and had chunks of onion in it. The store-bought was pretty thick, really creamy, definitely on the sweeter side (like a lot of nutmeg or cinnamon flavor), and overall pretty good.

So, by majority vote, the Food Network version wins, but I didn’t really like it. It was far too thin. The flavor was fine (make sure to add a lot of salt), and I liked the onions, but it just wasn’t what I was looking for in butternut squash soup.

What’s your favorite kind of soup? What’s the best recipe you know for butternut squash soup? Let me know, and have a great day!

50 Comments on “Store-Bought VS Food Network Recipe: Butternut Squash Soup”

  1. Check out the Smitten Kitchen food blog- Deb’s recipes are always amazing, and she has a winter squash soup with gruyere croutons that is amazing! Really, the woman’s recipes are spot on, can’t miss! As for the grittiness- you could press the soup through a strainer to smooth it out; or, use an immersion blender (or regular blender, which I guess you probably did)…and cook it down a bit- that would thicken it up. The Kitchn food blog is another ‘can’t miss’ recipe site. I like these better than Food Network, especially Smitten Kitchen- they just seem to make recipes FOR people, which work.

  2. I found a recipe for slow cooker split pea & ham soup that I absolutely love. It’s creamy, full of ham, and really yummy with sourdough bread. If you’re interested, I’ll be happy to share the recipe.

  3. Here is my favorite :

    Butternut Squash Soup (11 servings)

    2- tbsp. vegetable oil
    1- large onion cut into 1” pieces
    1- tsp. ground ginger
    ½ tsp. salt
    ½ tsp. ground mace
    ½ tsp. dry mustard
    ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
    ¼ tsp. black pepper
    1/8 tsp. ground red pepper
    6- cups cubed peeled butternut squash (about 2 pounds)
    2 ½ cups cubed, peeled sweet potato (about ¾ pound)
    ¾ cup sliced parsnips (1-inch thick)
    5 (10 ½ ounce) cans low salt chicken broth
    1- cup skim milk

    Butternut squash peels easier if you cut it lengthwise remove seeds & place face down in casserole dish in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Use melon baller or grapefruit spoon to separate meat from skin. Substitute yams for sweet potatoes for slightly sweeter taste.

    Heat oil in large stockpot over medium heat. Add onion & next 8 ingredients (onion through red pepper); sauté 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low; cover and cook 5 minutes or until onion tender, Add squash, sweet potato, parsnips and broth. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer partially cover, 30 minutes or until tender.

    Place 1/3 of vegetable mixture in blender or food processor; process until smooth. Pour puree into large bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining vegetable mixture until all is pureed. Return pureed mixture to stock pot, stir in milk. Cook over low heat 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring occasionally.

  4. Mmmm soup. One of my favourite foods. Although it’s 100 degrees where I am today (California) so fall/winter soups don’t sound too appealing right now. In the summer, I’m all about the Pho.

  5. I have to be honest. I hate soup. like, HATE. it’s just water with stuff thrown at it and only a little of that stuff actually making that into the pot. You seem to be lumping stuff in with “soup” that isn’t soup. It’s not soup if it’s lumpy or chunky, i’m pretty sure that stew, though I’m not a soupologist, so it’s really just my own opinion there. Soup leaves me hungry, isn’t very nutritional and sometimes tastes good, but usually is just damp flavored water.

    Stew is thick and tasty and is usually best with corn bread. IMHO if I can’t stand a spoon up in it, it’s not worth eating.

    My questions for you: how soon are you hungry after eating soup like butternut squash? Also, do you have mandatory side items for specific soups? I can’t eat a tomato bisque without having grilled cheese, a combination that I can thank my mother for, lol.

  6. I am inordinately fond of legume-based soup, in all its many varieties. My spouse has the gift of being able to taste something in a restaurant and duplicate it at home, and he has developed homemade versions of several lentil soup varieties served by our favorite local restaurants that we absolutely love. He makes a mili dal that I could happily eat every day for the rest of my life, and his Charro Bean Soup (based on the pinto bean soups you get in Tex-Mex restaurants in the Rio Grande Valley) is to die for.

    I don’t dislike butternut squash soup, mind you; it’s just usually sweeter and not as complex/interesting as I’d prefer. It’s fine as an appetizer or a side dish, but usually when we go to the trouble of making soup, it’s intended to be the main component of a meal, and I like something a bit more substantial, and more savory than sweet, as a main course.

  7. Just before it’s finshed mix a Tbsp of Wondra Flour in bit water and add to the soup. Stir it in and let the soup simmer for several more minutes. Wondra is a miracle of modern science and will thicken any cooked liquid. It’s idiot-resistant* and nearly impossible to cause lumps. It thickens without getting gummy like corn starch or tasting flour-ey.

    * nothing is truly idiot PROOF.

  8. My favorite soup is Portuguese or Caldo Verde soup or as we affectionately called it when I was young – Swamp soup. Of course you can never find two Portuguese people who make it the same way. Some people put Kale, some make it with collard greens (my preference). Some people add beans, some don’t. It is all about individual taste. I grew up on this and there is nothing better than a bowl of this and a piece of Portuguese or Italian bread.

  9. @tiki god: there is a continuum from thin soups to thickened broth to chunky soup to stew to a dish that simply has a slightly liquid sauce. meatball soup or matzah-ball soup or hot&sour soup are all more than a little lumpy, but in my view all are pretty clearly on the soup side of the soup/stew line. Coq au vin is basically a stew, heading toward “dish with a good deal of sauce” (which i don’t know of any good term for). But that line is at least as fuzzy as the line between “fantasy” and “science fiction”, and there is often no point in trying to place a dish in one category or the other.

    Personally i am not very fond of cream soups or tomato soups — i want something with a meat-stock base, usually, and somewhat on the brothy side. (leek soup can be an exception) Pho can be good, or French onion, or hot&sour, or miso, or even classic chicken-noodle. (Pho is surely chunky, but I don’t know anyone who doesn’t think of it as soup)

  10. “Soup is the greatest food known to mankind. ”

    You would get along so well with my Dad. He would have soup for every meal if he could.

  11. I love butternut squash too. The other favorites are clam chowder (or corn chowder) and chicken noodle.

  12. Is Chili a soup? It’s kind of a nebulous country.

    Butternut Squash Soup with Cider Cream


    5 tablespoons butter
    2 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 6 cups)
    2 cups chopped leeks (white and pale green parts only)
    1/2 cup chopped peeled carrot
    1/2 cup chopped celery
    2 small Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, chopped
    1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
    1/2 teaspoon crumbled dried sage leaves
    5 cups chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth
    1 1/2 cups apple cider
    2/3 cup sour cream

    1/2 cup whipping cream
    Chopped fresh chives


    Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add squash, leeks, carrot and celery; sauté until slightly softened, about 15 minutes. Mix in apples, thyme and sage. Add stock and 1 cup cider and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until apples are tender, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Cool slightly.

    Working in batches, purée soup in blender. Return soup to pan. Boil remaining 1/2 cup cider in heavy small saucepan until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 5 minutes. Cool. Place sour cream in small bowl. Whisk in reduced cider. (Soup and cider cream can be made 1 day ahead. Cover separately and refrigerate.)

    Bring soup to simmer. Mix in whipping cream. Ladle soup into bowls. Drizzle with cider cream. Top with chives.

    And my favorite soup (and one of the easiest to make):


    1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
    2-4 garlic cloves
    2 teaspoons salt
    5 tablespoons Sherry vinegar (preferably “reserva”)
    1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire
    3 lb ripe tomatoes, quartered
    1/2 cup mild extra-virgin olive oil (preferably Andalusian hojiblanca)
    2 roasted red bell peppers (can use jarred but drain well)
    1 large or 2 medium English cucumbers
    1 large red onion

    Finely chop ½ pound of tomatoes and reserve. Also finely chop about ¼ of the cucumber and onion and reserve.

    Mash garlic to a paste with salt using a mortar and pestle (or mince and mash with a large knife). Blend everything except the chopped vegetables and olive oil until liquified. Add oil in a slow stream, blending until as smooth as possible, about 1 minute. You’ll probably have to do this in two batches.

    Add the reserved vegetables and stir well (I like my gazpacho chunky).

    Chill covered until cold, an hour in the freezer or 3 hours in the refrigerator.

    Sometimes throwing a jalapeno in the blender is good.

  13. Yes, soup is a wonderful thing, and one of my most favorite foods, too. To be honest, butternut squash is not one of my favorite things, so I don’t have a favorite recipe to share. You mention you like Food Network, and that they are your go-to source for most recipes. Whenever you’re willing to venture away from FN I suggest taking a look at the Food section of the New York Times (assuming the Scalzi household has a subscription). They have a fabulous collection of recipes (64 results for butternut squash soup alone!) for all culinary levels and tastes. A couple of other websites I like (creative and tasty vegetarian) and (Italian from an Englishwoman living in Rome). There are about a billion food and recipe websites out there, so whenever you’re ready to explore you’ll find something you like. Happy cooking!

  14. I love making butternut squash soup! My usual cooking style may be a little minimalist, but this soup comes out very thick and creamy and I think the flavor of butternut squash itself is excellent.

    First, bake the squash in the oven (rather than heating on a stove). This is very important to get a creamy soup. I usually skin it, get the guts out, cut it into medium-size chunks, and bake for like 20-30 minutes at a reasonably hot temperature (around 350 is good). You can tell when it’s ready–when forks go into the squash flesh very easily.

    While it’s baking, slowly caramelize an onion in olive oil on the stovetop.

    When all that’s done, combine the baked squash and onions in a blender, with just enough water added to get the thickness you want. I usually don’t put much water, because I like dense soups. Blend it until its super smooth (doesn’t take long). Then add a small dash of balsamic vinegar to brighten it up a tad, and then just blend that into the soup.

    All done! Easy, delicious soup :). Non-butternut-squashes (acorn squash, pumpkin, etc.) have a much blander taste to me, so they require a lot more spices in soup-making.

  15. Hokkaido pumpkin is not so bland, IMO, and you do not have to peel it – but if you do not keep in mind that blending is necessary.

  16. For me the key to a great soup is to roast your vegies rather than boiling them. It changes *everything*. I usually cut the vegie as evenly as possible, coat in a mixture of olive oil and basil (salt if you like – I adore lemon myrtle with salt and a teensy bit of sugar over roasted sweet potato, but lemon myrtle may be hard to get). And home-made vegetable stock is amazing too (if you make a lot and add a lot of salt you can keep it in the freezer – if there’s enough salt it won’t freeze at all) although it’s a lot of work to make (I use a lot of fresh herbs, and you have to take leaves off stalks and suchlike, which is a pain).

    I also like to add some secondary vegetables (usually the same colour eg sweet potato and carrots in pumpkin soup). Roasted onions are ALWAYS amazing (ooh, and roasted garlic!) and roasted potatoes are good for adding body. It fills out the flavour beautifully.

    Great, now I’m hungry. *shakes fist*

  17. I love cold soups, like vichyssoise and, of course, gazpacho (I’m a Spaniard). Though, unlike pjcamp’s above, our gazpacho definitely does not include either Worcestershire sauce, or jalapeños. ;-)
    Among hot soups, I’m a big fan of soupe à l’oignon. I dislike “thin” soups and consommes.

  18. I have two signs hanging in my kitchen “A Soup In Every Pot” and “Soup Kitchen” and that says about all you need to know about me and soup. :)

    My two favs are Smoked Duck, White Bean and Italian Sausage soup and Beef Barley Soup. Both are complicated, complex and to die for.

    Remember…your soup is only as good as your stock. So take your time with the stock and your soup will have a great start.

  19. Seconing the suggestion to check out Smitten Kitchen! Great stuff, everything I’ve tried has been yummy. My chocolate babka wasn’t as *pretty* as hers, but yummy beats pretty ‘round here. :)

  20. A little help, for a great charity: … …

    El vie., 6 de jul. de 2018 a la(s) 21:25, Whatever ( escribió:

    > athenascalzi posted: ” I fucking love soup, man. Soup is the greatest food > known to mankind. There’s so many different types, so many different > flavors and endless possibilities as to what can be created. Some soups > have grains, some have meat, some have cheese, it all d” >

  21. Moar squash! And a stick blender! That recipe is kinda, err, vanilla. If it’s still too thin, cream of wheat or cream of rice are great cream soup thickeners.

  22. I positively love Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana. I was able to find a copycat recipe, so I make it from time to time. I have to say, I enjoy my version better than Olive Garden’s. Sooooo spicy and full of goodness. Yummm…..

  23. I haven’t tried making this, but I have made red pepper bisque with cream and red peppers, onions, etc. put through a blender and seive. I don’t have the recipe upstairs with me, but I’m pretty sure I pulled it from Food Network too. Eat it with croutons if you make it. Also I have a great potato bacon cream soup; if you want the recipe I can reply with it later.

  24. As Colonel Snuggledorf pointed out I do make pretty good soup.
    Here’s the best recipe I’ve found to date for squash soup. It calls for butternut squash but any dense winter squash or pumpkin will work.

    Golden Squash Soup

    1 lb butternut Squash peeled and cubed
    1 qt chicken broth
    1 cup diced onions
    2 cloves garlic rough chopped
    2 tbs butter
    2 Tbs curry powder
    ½ tsp cinnamon
    ½ tsp nutmeg
    ½ tsp dried ginger
    ¼ tsp ground cloves
    1 tsp salt
    1 cup half and half
    2 Tbs tomato paste

    Melt butter in large pot. Add onions and saute until onions start to turn translucent.
    Add squash and garlic and seasonings. Cook until squash is tender (about 45 minutes)
    Use immersion blender (or regular blender) to puree the cooked vegetables.
    Add tomato paste and half and half. Cook another 10 minutes.

  25. We make butternut squash soup at work all the time, so here’s roughly how we do it.

    -Peel and chop onions and butternut (you can also roast the squash halved, then scoop the seeds after it’s cooked and scrape it out of the skin into the pan. More work after roasting, less before. Your choice).
    -Toss onions, butternut, and several cloves of peeled garlic in olive oil, salt, fresh cracked black pepper, and thyme. Put on a baking sheet and roast (350) until soft and starting to caramelize a bit. You’ll want to stir them a couple of times while roasting.
    -When done, dump everything in a pan with some stock (we use vegan veg, but chicken would work as well) and bring to the boil. At this point you can add chili if you want, in either flake form or pepper form.
    -After it’s boiled for a bit, blitz it (stick blenders are your friends, but you can do it in a food pro or blender) and adjust the thickness and seasoning to suit. As it cools it will get thicker, so if you freeze it, you’ll probably want to water it down a bit when you reheat it.

    You can add cream, cheese, or use sweet potatoes instead. The joy of this version is that everything is basically cooked before you put it in the pan, so it takes very little time on the stove.

  26. There’s nothing like a properly made clam chowder. New England style, of course. With crusty bread on the side. Mmmmmmm!

  27. Another great recipe site is All sorts of fun to be had there.

    For butternut squash soup, I’ve used this recipe for a non-vegetarian version:
    (I usually substitute a diced, small onion for the leek though.)
    For a vegetarian version, try Ruth Reichl’s recipe:

    For me, one of the best things about soups is that it’s easy to make adjustments to the basic recipe, depending on what you have on hand and what your particular flavor likes and dislikes are. Don’t have leeks? Substitute onion. Hate white pepper? Use black. Soups tend to be more forgiving in that way.

    Here’s a favorite soup at my house:

    Vaguely Thai-Inspired Coconut Chicken & Bok Choy Soup
    2 TBS coconut oil
    1 med onion, sliced or diced
    2 TBS grated fresh ginger (I tend to eyeball this)
    1 serrano chili, halved
    zest from half a lemon or Persian lime (save the fruit for serving)
    kosher salt
    6 cups chicken broth (low sodium, if using store bought)
    approx. 3/4 lb boneless chicken, firm fish fillets, or shrimp ***
    2 TBS fish sauce
    2 tsp Penzey’s Bangkok Blend seasoning
    1 14-oz can coconut milk
    1 med head bok choy, chopped
    Lemon or lime wedges for serving
    Cilantro or parsley for serving (optional)

    Heat coconut oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, ginger, chili, lemon/lime zest and 1/2 tsp kosher salt and cook until onion is softened but not browned, stirring occasionally. Add broth, fish sauce, Bangkok Blend and your choice of protein and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until protein is cooked through (chicken around 8 min, fish and shrimp will probably be done by the time the broth boils).
    Remove the chicken, fish or shrimp and shred (chicken) or cut (fish) into bite-sized pieces. Add coconut milk and bok choy to the pot and simmer a few minutes until the bok choy is tender. Return chicken. fish or shrimp to the pot to warm through.
    Serve with lemon or lime wedges to squeeze over the soup (don’t skip this) and cilantro/parsley (optional).

    *** I will often use precooked chicken that I cut into bite-sized pieces before adding to the broth or a vegetarian shrimp substitute. Then all I do is warm it up in the broth for a few minutes before adding the coconut milk and bok choy. Oh, and I’ve also substituted baby spinach for the bok choy with good results; just let the hot soup wilt it and it’s ready to go.

  28. We prefer thicker soups too so I always make a new-to-me recipe with less of the liquid than the recipe suggests, because it’s easy enough to add more liquid, but boiling too much off can change the flavour besides taking time when you are hungry! I agree on the stick blender being the best way to blend soups, no messing around tipping hot soup into the blender in batches, but with the caveat that you want the most powerful one you can find/afford. I was given a cheapo stick blender, burnt it out, bought a better one, burnt that out and now have a top of the range one with a great guarantee so if I do manage to burn it out I’m covered; the cheaper stick blenders tend to have quite short – 20 seconds even – limits on how long you can blend at a time which means getting the soup to a smooth texture can take ages, my fancy one you can go for five minutes at a time which is usually enough even for a whopping pot of soup.

  29. Delia Smith put out a book of soup recipes, called Soup, I think. They never fail, it’s my most frequently used cookbook, both for myself (I too adore soup) and for entertaining.

    I think every meal should start with soup. In much of Asia, breakfast soups are quite common. Delicious!

  30. Athena, you are right that soup is just the best!
    I’m not a bit fan of cinnamon, nutmeg and similar spices with vegetables. Here is by far my favourite and easiest butternut soup recipe – I make it often, and have never found a store-bought or homemade butternut soup that comes close. Like most vegetable soups, the key is a base of gently cooked onions, and stopping the cooking process as soon as vegetables are done, to keep flavours and colours fresh (unlike most meat soups which are better with long slow cooking). This soup also improves on keeping – so make in advance if time allows.

    3 tablespoons butter
    2 onions, finely chopped
    2 cups butternut, cleaned and diced
    1 Granny Smith apple (or similar, crisp and tart), peeled and chopped
    3 tablespoons plain flour
    1 to 2 teaspoons medium-strength curry powder
    3 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock if you prefer)
    1 1/2 cups milk
    grated rind and juice of 1 orange
    salt, pepper and pinch of sugar
    cream, for serving

    Saute onions in butter til soft and flavourful. Add the butternut and apple, and saute to absorb the butter and develop the vegetable flavours (about 3 mins), stirring lightly from time to time. Add the flour and curry powder, blending with the vegetables. Add the chicken stock, milk, orange rind and juice. Simmer slowly for 15-20 mins until the vegetables are tender. Liquidise in a blender/food processor. Taste and then add salt, pepper and pinch of sugar as needed. Serve with a dollop of cream.

    If you make it, let us know if you like it!

  31. I’m not a huge fan of winter squash, but I’ve had a curried butternut squash soup that was really excellent — the curry flavor goes very well with the squash IMO. So you might try Sparrow’s recipe above and see how that comes out. Also, I concur with everyone else that for this kind of soup a “run it thru the blender” step is de rigeur.

  32. We eat a lot of soup in our house, much of it home-made. My personal favorite home-made soup is Julia Child’s French Onion Soup recipe. Very tasty if you go whole hog with the Gueiere (sp?) cheese and French baguette slice baked in a ramikin. I also make a lot of chicken noodle soup made with home-made turkey stock (richer than chicken stock). When it comes to canned soup, Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup (made with milk) is quite satisfying and filling.

  33. Yogurt added will make creaminess and cut the sweetness in squash soup, and yeah, curry powder.
    @mintwitch: I learned to love jook in Chinatown in L.A. 40 years ago, long before I found out it’s traditionally a breakfast thing. On cold winter days you can set it up in your crockpot overnight and have a lovely breakfast ready when you get up:

  34. I am also a big fan of soup, my homemade ones are always on the thicker side. I call these “pots o’ stuff” which includes stew, chili, thick soups, a soupy grains + beans. Donna Hurst and I are in agreement: soup is only as good as your stock. I collect scraps and liquids for stocks like nobody’s business: smoked duck frames, liquids from slow cooker hams, … you name it, I save it. Then I simmer it in water and make stock with it. Right now I’m low on stocks: I have only chicken stock, Western smoked chicken stock, and the world’s best turducken drippings.

    My soups are usually improv based on a good stock. They never taste the same and I never know what to call each one. My soups usually made the following way:
    – Pressure-cook beans in brine and with something tasty, including smoked pig parts, bacon skin, parmesan rinds, and/or beer.
    – Meanwhile, saute onion, celery, and garlic.
    – Add the interesting liquid (and sometimes canned tomatoes with their juice), meat chopped into small pieces, hard veggies such as carrot, and optional cooked grain (brown rice, quinoa, etc), simmer till veggies are half-done.
    – Add beans and soft veggies such as cauliflower or cabbage, cook till veggies are done the way you like it.
    – Season to taste.

  35. My favorite is butternut squash and scallop soup. Very easy to make and delicious.

    2 cups of peeled and cubed butternut squash
    2 cups tomato salsa
    14.5 oz of chicken or vegetable broth
    2 cups frozen corn kernels
    1/2 teaspoon oregano
    1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    1 pound bay scallops
    1 tablespoon lime juice
    1/3 cup crumbled tortilla chips

    Combine salsa, broth, chips and squash in a large pan at medium heat. Bring to simmer and cook until the squash is tender (5 minutes or so). Add cumin, oregano and corn and bring back to a simmer then add the scallops and cook until they are done. Add the lime juice before serving.

  36. Hereya go!
    Simple Thai Squash and Coconut Milk Soup (& sovereign hangover or bad cold recipe)

    • 1 can good coconut milk (about 1 and 2/3 cups)
    • Same amount of water or chicken broth
    • 1/2 Butternut, Hubbard or Kambocha squash, OR sub in a good boxed Butternut Squash Soup, amount equal to coconut milk
    • 2 – 3 tablespoons (or more) Thai green curry paste
    • A few dashes (or more) of fish sauce
    • A few keffir lime leaves, (put in whole or half – easier to remove – you don’t eat them) NON-Negotiable ingredient!
    • A handful of slivered basil (optional)
    • Lime juice to taste (lots)

    Cooking note: If using squash, make your life easy and precook – chop in pieces and boil – scoop flesh out of skin and add to soup. Puree the hell out of it when you add to pot. Do that before you add the keffir lime leaves
    – In a thick-bottomed pot, heat coconut milk, lime leaves, fish sauce and whatever form of squash you decide to use.
    – When nearly boiling, stir in curry paste well. Turn off the heat; add in basil leaves and lots of lime juice, and serve.

    • thinly slice some boneless chicken breast (easiest if done while the chicken is still somewhat frozen) and throw it in the soup right at the end – takes no time to cook at all.

  37. Regarding clam chowder: “properly made” will, of course, get you into the religious discussion of New England chowder (also dominant here in the Pacific NW) vs. “Manhattan” style. On one hand, I was raised in the New England tradition on my grandmother’s homemade version, prepared with clams dug up by the extended family out on the Long Beach Peninsula and taken off to the local cannery to be chopped and canned (so we were always at least one beach trip ahead on chowder clams). On the other, I find I actually rather like the Manhattan version occasionally purely for contrast, though I try not to mention that too loudly among family. The compromise that’s developed out here is “fisherman’s stew”, essentially a Manhattan chowder with fish and a dash of other seafood but no clams; my two favorite local seafood places offer both.

    Even among New England chowder recipes, though, there’s a lot of variation. Some use heavy cream, some use half-and-half, and some simply call for milk. I tend to prefer the versions toward the milk end of the spectrum — in part out of necessity, as my mother developed a lactose intolerance and that required tinkering with most standard-issue chowder recipes to one degree or another — and in my circles if your chowder is thick enough that the spoon stands up in the bowl, you are doing it wrong (if you’re in a restaurant, they’ve probably added way too much potato starch to the base).

    For a particular treat in this line, look for recipes for smoked salmon chowder — essentially a slimmed-down New England base with flakes or small chunks of smoked salmon (hard-smoked, not lox) instead of clams.

  38. I adore soup. I cook soup several times per week. All kinds of soup. Especially thick hearty soup that freezes well. I hate sweet butternut soup. Here is the butternut squash soup I think is ultimate. The spiced pepitas are a must.
    South-West Squash Soup
    2 whole butternut squash
    6 large carrots, coarsely chopped
    6 stalks of celery, coarsely chopped, or some celery flakes
    1 onion, coarsely chopped
    2 quarts vegetable broth (optional) or water
    Combine the following spices in small bowl:
    ½ tsp each of the following: salt, chili powder, ground cumin, cayenne or chipotle powder (optional)
    ¼ tsp cinnamon
    1)slice squash lengthwise, scoop out seeds, roast cut side down in 375 oven until soft. Scrape squash from skin when cool.
    In large pot saute onions in some oil until soft and translucent. Add carrots and celery and saute until very very soft. Add spices and saute on medium heat a few minutes. Add a little oil if too dry. Don’t let it burn. Add squash, stir well, cook a couple minutes. Add water or vegetable broth till all veggies are covered. Bring to a bubble, then simmer for 20 minutes, stirring often. Let cool. Puree with immersion blender till smooth, or in a blender. Add more salt if you want. Serve warm, garnished with spiced pepitos. Can also garnish with red pepper sour cream if you want a richer soup. Can freeze the soup for several months.

    Spiced pepitos: sauté pepitos(shelled pumpkin seeds) in some olive oil on medium high heat till brown and starting to “pop”. A cast iron fry pan is excellent for this, but use anything, just not non-stick. Add spice mixture below and stir till well-coated. Saute on medium for 2 more minutes, then remove to paper-lined plate.
    Spice mixture: ½ tsp each of the following to cover approximately 2 cups of pepitos:
    Chili powder, chipotle or cayenne powder, cumin and salt

    Roasted Red pepper sour cream (or yogurt):
    Puree 1 small jar of roasted red peppers (or two fresh roasted peppers, skins removed) then stir in 1 pint sour cream or plain yogurt.
    ps. my whole family just read Head-On during our week-long vacation at Yellowstone. Loved it. The bison and bears were cool too!

  39. The only reason I make a soup is when I want a good chicken soup. I like me a good chicken soup with lots of veggies; but no pasta or rice; which is hard to find in store boughten.

  40. The Cooking Illustrated Butternut Squash Soup recipe is pretty good. It’s one of the recipes I use for preparing a Thanksgiving feast. But unfortunately it’s behind a paywall and I wouldn’t feel comfortable copying it and posting it publicly. They do offer some suggestions for upping your Butternut Squash Soup game.

    For soup with intense squash flavor, many recipes will roast the squash to rid it of excess moisture and concentrate its flavor. But what if you don’t want to turn the oven on? For our soup, we start by microwaving large chunks of squash to hasten the cooking process. We then slowly caramelized the parcooked squash in a Dutch oven, much as we do with onion for French Onion Soup, until a thick brown fond developed. Deglazing the pot and scraping up the fond gave the soup the deep flavor of roasted squash soup in a fraction of the time. To further enhance the soup’s vegetable flavor, we chose vegetable broth (Swanson Vegetable broth) over chicken broth and used an aromatic base of leeks, fresh thyme, and bay leaf.”

  41. I would never say “I love soup.” Depends what kind of soup. Some flavors of soup I love, some I don’t like at all. When I go to a restaurant and am considering the soup of the day, and it isn’t posted, I ask the waitperson what it is. And they always have to check! Apparently the idea of a customer who wants to know what kind of soup it is before ordering it is unknown to them.

    Favorite soups: chicken broth with anything (especially matzo balls), clam chowder (which isn’t kosher, so go figure).

  42. Wow, that’s pretty interesting! I keep kosher, so I’ll have to check out the Imagine soup. Whenever I’ve made squash soup I’ve always just sort of… winged it, I guess? I roughly do this:

    — roast as much squash as you want (I admit: I do this so I can peel it more easily– if you don’t mind peeling it raw, then you can peel it raw and add it to the sautéed onions)
    — chop and sautée some onion in a large pot, throw in some salt and herbs (fresh thyme is grand, if you have it) (if you’re working with raw squash, this is where you’d throw it in)
    — let the flavours suffuse together for a bit
    — add the roasted squash and stir
    — throw in some vegetable broth and simmer it all for about 15 minutes (probably more if you’re working with raw squash)
    — blend it with either a blender or a hand blender
    Serve with some cream to swirl in to taste. Sprinkle a tiny bit of nutmeg on top, and maybe some chopped scallions, too? Whatever rocks your boat.

    I think this comes out similar to how you describe the Imagine soup, but since I haven’t tried it– well, who knows? I’ll have to do a taste test!

    Thanks, Athena, and enjoy your soup!

  43. I also wholeheartedly recommend the Smitten Kitchen website. I have made numerous things off her site and they all are amazing. She has a strawberry graham cake that is to die for gorgeous. I really enjoy Serious Eats as well. And last, but not least at all, David Lebovitz’s website. He’s an American in Paris and has a blog that I guarantee will make you want to move to France (or at least visit!).

  44. Wow, lots of great sounding recipes, and recs for recipe websites. Thanks, everyone!