I’m not a fan of winter, but one thing I DO appreciate about the colder weather is that it greatly simplifies my dinner planning since I can start rotating soups and chowders back into the picture.
At least once a week (usually on Mondays), we do a soup-and-breadstick night, which my kids are big fans of because I let them roll out the breadsticks into whatever shapes they choose. It’s an activity they almost always do with my husband when he gets home from work on those days, which allows me to put the finishing touches on whatever soup I’m preparing for that night (and allows them quality bonding time).
Last year, we acquired a crazy amount of butternut squash from a local here in Cache Valley, who was getting rid of the gourds after he’d scraped out the seeds (since his business was literally just to cultivate butternut squash seeds). That’s how we ended up with over a dozen massive squashes last year, and even after we gave away well over half, we were still left with a freezer full.
Luckily, my friend Heather (who is an expert in all things gardening and weed-related, which she writes about on her own blog) divulged her family’s recipe for creamy butternut squash soup to me, and this is now our favorite meatless soup to enjoy in the winter. I share it now with her permission, along with our favorite breadstick recipe that we make weekly.
Creamy Butternut Squash Soup
- 1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
- 1 medium onion, cut into large chunks
- 5-7 carrots, peeled and chopped (coins or sticks are fine)
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- dried thyme
- 4-5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- heavy cream
- Preheat oven to 400.
- Toss the vegetables with olive oil, thyme, and salt and pepper (see note below) and lay out in a single layer on a large cookie sheet.
- Roast vegetables in oven for 20 minutes, stirring once or twice.
- Remove vegetables from oven and place in large stock pot. Cover with 4-5 cups chicken or vegetable broth and simmer on stove until all vegetables are tender.
- Using an immersion blender (or a regular blender and just doing the soup in batches), blend all the ingredients together until thick and smooth and creamy. Add cream (I usually do about a half cup to a full cup) and stir in.
Note: I never measure exactly how much olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme that I use–I basically just use enough oil to lightly coat all the vegetables and then do several shakes of thyme, salt, and pepper. However, if you’d like more of a guideline, I probably use about 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and 1 teaspoon of thyme.
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 – 4 1/2 cups flour
- Combine water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl (preferably the bowl of a mixer, if you have one). Let stand for ten minutes, or until the mixture is bubbly and fragrant.
- Add salt and stir. Gradually add flour a cup or half cup at a time until dough is pulling away from the sides of the bowl and is just barely sticky to the touch. (With our high elevation, I use closer to the 4-1/2 cup mark, but do it by feel, not by measurement.)
- Cover dough and let rise for 30-45 minutes or until doubled.
- Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Remove dough and punch down onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into roughly 10-12 pieces (or just let your kids make them as big or small as they want–this dough isn’t fussy). Roll out each piece into a rope and place on baking sheet.
- Cover dough and let rise while you preheat your oven to 425 degrees. When your oven is preheated, slide the breadsticks in and bake for 12-14 minutes or until breadsticks are golden brown on top. Brush the tops with melted butter and enjoy!
Makes: 10-12 breadsticks
What are your favorite cold-weather soups? I’m always on the lookout for new recipes, so pass them my way!