Roasted butternut and chicken soup


I’m cheating on the Veggie of the Month for October. Butternut squash is not a new vegetable for us. We happily cook with it every fall. You might even remember the butternut squash bruschetta from a couple of years ago. So this doesn’t fit the “Pick a new vegetable, learn about it, and cook with it” scheme that launched the Vegetable of the Month experiment in January. The thing is: I have a ton of butternut squash that just came out of the garden, and some of it needs to be cooked right away. Also, my kids have never been all that into squash, so I’m going to use this as a sneaky way to get them pumped about butternut. “It’s the veggie of the month! Of course we’re excited to try it!”

I love this squash. It is so easy to grow, and it’s attractive in the garden (or along the fence) throughout its growth cycle. Its vines spread like wildfire, and it is very tolerant of neglect. Knowing this, I dropped a bunch of butternut squash seeds into the ground in my garden. The seedlings grew so vigorously that I transplanted a few into a sunny weed patch that has irked me since we bought this house. I didn’t expect it to take, but I figured it was worth a shot. We pulled all of the weeds from the patch, popped in the transplants, and then smiled each time we looked at the former eyesore, which was now sprawling with big, leafy vines.

Not only is it easy to grow, attractive, and delicious, it’s also pretty good for you. Butternut squash provides Vitamin E, Potassium, Magnesium, and tons of Vitamin A, in addition to other important nutrients. It even contains small amounts of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Next year, you should grow some. In the meantime, pick up a bunch butternut squash at the farmer’s market. Eat some now, and the rest will store nicely in a cool place for a few months.

Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut squash (about 2 pounds), peeled, seeded and diced medium.
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced medium
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1-2 T. lemon juice
  • Leftover chicken, chopped (we had roasted a chicken earlier in the week, so I used about half of it for this soup. We also used the bones from this chicken to make the stock)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss the squash and onion in olive oil with a bit of salt and pepper, then spread in a single layer on a roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet. Roast until squash is tender, about 30 minutes.
  2. Transfer the vegetables to a stock pot and add the chicken stock and spices over medium heat. Simmer a few minutes, then puree with a hand blender (or transfer to a blender or food processor – the original recipe calls for using a potato masher, but I wanted a smoother texture).
  3. Taste and adjust seasoning, then stir in chicken. Heat through and serve.

Source: Adapted from Martha Stewart Living

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