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Warming up with winter soups

When the chill of the winter air is nipping at your nose, there’s nothing better than a steaming bowl of soup to warm you from your head to your toes. Christopher Kimball, the founder, editor, and publisher of Cook’s Illustrated magazine and one of the editors of “The Best Secret: Soups and Stews” cookbook, has something that’ll take chill out of your bones. Check out the recipe for butt
Today
/ Source: msnbc.com

When the chill of the winter air is nipping at your nose, there’s nothing better than a steaming bowl of soup to warm you from your head to your toes. Christopher Kimball, the founder, editor, and publisher of Cook’s Illustrated magazine and one of the editors of “The Best Secret: Soups and Stews” cookbook, has something that’ll take chill out of your bones. Check out the recipe for butternut squash below.

VARIATIONS

Curried Squash Soup with Cilantro

Mix 4 tablespoons plain yogurt, 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro leaves, 1 teaspoon lime juice, and 1/8 teaspoon salt together in a small bowl. Refrigerate until needed. Follow recipe for Butternut Squash Soup, adding 2 teaspoons curry powder to the blender when pureeing the squash and liquid. Finish the soup as directed and ladle it into individual bowls. Spoon some of the cilantro-yogurt mixture into each bowl and serve immediately.

Squash Soup with Cinnamon-Sugar Croutons

A sprinkling of spicy but sweet croutons is a nice foil for the rich soup. Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove crusts from 4 slices of white sandwich bread and cut bread into 1/2-inch cubes (you should have about 2 cups).

Toss the bread cubes with 2 tablespoons melted butter in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, combine 4 teaspoons sugar and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon; sprinkle over bread cubes and toss to combine. Spread the bread cubes in a single layer on parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. (Croutons can be stored in an airtight container for several days.) Follow recipe for Butternut Squash Soup, sprinkling croutons over individual bowls of soup just before serving.

Winter Squash Varieties

Butternut and acorn squash are the most commonly available winter squash varieties. In our tests, we found that while firm butternut squash makes excellent soup, acorn squash is too stringy and sour for this purpose. Of course, supermarkets and farmer’s markets carry more varieties of squash than just your standard acorn and butternut. We were interested in learning how the different squash varieties would perform in our soup. Here are our top picks (ranked in order of preference) to use in our squash soup recipe. We do not recommend sugar pumpkin, spaghetti, or blue hubbard, which we found to be too fibrous and/or sour for use in soup.

Carnival squash is shaped like an acorn squash but has a yellow skin with green and orange stripes. The flesh is creamy, delicate, buttery, and sweet, and it produces a deep yellow soup.

Delicata squash is shaped like a zucchini and can be yellow or white with long green stripes. The flesh is sweet and has a rice like flavor. It produces a beautiful pale orange soup.

Butternut squash is shaped like a long-necked bell, and the skin is peach colored. The flesh is buttery and strong tasting and yields a lovely orange soup.

Kabocha squash is shaped like a small, squat pumpkin with dark green skin. The flesh is very thick and earthy, with a slightly sour or vegetal flavor. If using kabocha squash, use a 2 1/2-pound squash and increase the brown sugar to 1 tablespoon.

Sweet dumpling squash is shaped like an acorn squash but smaller, and the skin is yellow or white. The flesh is thin and has onion and corn overtones. If using sweet dumpling squash, increase the amount of squash to 5 pounds.

Red kuri squash looks like an oblong and unridged pumpkin. The flesh is very mellow and delicate. If using red kuri squash, increase the brown sugar to 1 tablespoon.



Copyright © 2002 by Cooks Illustrated magazine. Reprinted by permission.