To cut the butternut squash without losing a fingertip (as I almost have, too many times), chop it in half first, so you can set it vertically, with a flat side down, on your cutting board, and slice off the peel carefully with a sharp knife. Discard seeds and cut squash into cubes of equal sizes. I do not recommend using frozen squash for this. In our experience, it's watery and flavorless every time. Some stores sell fresh packaged squash that's been pre-peeled and cubed, if you are in a hurry, though, and that works perfectly.
Here's how to throw this quick, delicious dish together in under 20 minutes:
Ingredients: (makes about four bowls)
1 large butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 small onion, chopped
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
4 to 6 cups of chicken stock (or vegetable, to make this vegan or vegetarian)
2 inches of fresh ginger root, peeled and grated finely on a microplane (about a tablespoon)
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground paprika
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 bay leaves
olive oil and butter (butter optional)
fresh bread such as baguette to serve with (optional, but not in our home)
In a stock pot, heat a couple of tablespoons each of olive oil and butter, add onions, and sauté over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes.
Add chopped garlic and cook another 2 minutes.
Add butternut squash cubes and all the spices, and season well with salt and pepper.
Pour in enough broth to cover squash fully, toss in 2 bay leaves, and bring to a boil.
Simmer soup, half-covered, for 12 to 15 minutes or until squash is just cooked through but not too mushy.
Discard bay leaves and blend hot soup until creamy and smooth (we use a handy hand blender), and serve immediately with a side of crunchy fresh bread for dunking.
(Note: this soup travels and freezes extremely well, so if you like it, double the recipe next time, and enjoy at work, school, or as a super-fast weeknight freezer dinner any dark and cold night.)
Here's to good health, great flavor, heartwarming food, and making it through another long winter.