Not enough time. And butternut squash soup.
I shouldn't complain about being busy. I'm much better busy. It's sitting around with lots of time on my hands that gets me into trouble. Current time sucks include:
- Work. Enough said.
- Reading. I'm working on Colum McCann's wonderful novel Let the Great World Spin and debating whether or not to download Keith Richards' autobiography Life to my new Kindle. Not a typical Lynn book, but I'm fascinated, because really, that man should be dead by now.
- Line-by-Line, the amazing New York Times series by artist James McMullan (part of the online Opinionator Blog) that teaches readers how to draw. I come home at night, curl up with my laptop, a piece of paper, and a 2B pencil. I haven't created anything worth sharing, but I'm having fun.
- Writing. I signed up for National Novel Writing Month, affectionately known as NaNoWriMo. The goal? To write 50,000 words in the month of November. This particular project isn't going so well.
All of this means I haven't been cooking dinner as often as usual. Or writing about it. Or taking photographs. Which makes me a lousy food blogger.
I did find time to make one of my favorite fall soups earlier in the week: curried butternut squash soup with caramelized pear. Most squashes are fairly delicate in flavor, but butternut holds up well to more assertive spices, like curry. Roasting the squash before adding it to the soup pot would be a great way to enhance the sweetness, but I simply chopped it up and cooked it in chicken stock (the whole time-saving thing). There's no cream in this pureed soup, but it's so smooth you won't miss it. Or feel guilty taking a second helping.
I often caramelize diced apple for this soup — it's a beautiful, tasty garnish — but I had pears in the fridge, so I used them instead. Make this with water or vegetable stock if you like — it will still be great. The soup is simple, good, and worth finding time to make. I promise.
Curried Butternut Squash Soup with Caramelized Pear
Serves 6 to 8
2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large white onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons Madras curry powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped into 1x1-inch pieces
6-7 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 pears (or apples), peeled, cored and finely diced
1 tablespoon butter
Melt 2-3 tablespoons of butter in a large, heavy stockpot. Add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic, sprinkle in a pinch of salt, and soften over medium heat, about 7-8 minutes. Add the bay leaf, curry powder, and turmeric, and cook for another minute, stirring constantly. Add the butternut squash and stock, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook 25-30 minutes, until the squash is tender. Puree with an immersion blender or in a standing blender. If you use a traditional blender, be very careful. Hot soup is dangerous stuff. Taste and season with Kosher salt and white pepper.
Heat 1 tablespoon of butter in a saute pan until foamy. Add the diced pear and sprinkle with a pinch of sugar, tossing to coat. The fruit will soften and caramelize in a couple of minutes. Use this as a garnish.