Although outdoor activities make summer my favorite time of year in Washington, the bountiful harvest of autumn comes in a very close second. I love the flavors of fall so much that when BlogHer asked me to choose one of my recipes for a series of progressive dinner posts on fall entertaining, the only hard part was choosing which recipe to use! I decided on my butternut squash soup, not only because it’s easily adapted for an autumn or Halloween themed party, but also because all home cooks need to have at least one pureed soup up their sleeves. Even better, this soup has been a winner with every picky eater I’ve fed it to!
For me, the key to a good soup is texture. Too thin, and it seems watery and cheap; too thick, and you can’t choke it down. While an immersion blender makes blended soups really easy to make, you can also blend them in a regular blender. Just make sure to only do a little at a time; fill the blender less than halfway, or you could have hot soup explode all over you and your kitchen!
Now in my family, we can’t eat pureed soups plain; we need something chunky in there to enhance the contrast of the smoothness of the soup. I love using dried cranberries in this soup, and for Halloween I even use a little cream to draw spiderwebs in the soup, dotting them with cranberry “bugs”. Sometimes, if I want to make it extra fancy, I’ll use pomegranate seeds. Their juicy bursts of tartness add a really bright element to the soup.
Another key to a great soup is controlling the heat as you make your soup. You want a higher heat when you start cooking your vegetables, which gives a little caramelization sweetness to the soup, but once you add the liquid you want to reduce it to a simmer, so it doesn’t all evaporate.
Looking at some of the features of the new GE Café™ Double Oven Range, I started wishing for their tri-ring burner, which has three burners in one. It’s the most powerful burner GE Café™ has ever made, great for quick sautés and stir fries, but it also has a very small burner to gently handle delicate ingredients. Want to know what I find even more exciting? The dedicated simmer burner that you can move your soup pot to, so you can free up your other burners, a big bonus when cooking for a party.
I have to do a lot of pot and pan juggling right now. The wires on two of my burners have frayed, so I’m down to two small burners. Yikes! I don’t know yet if we can easily repair the problem, but if not, I’m definitely eyeing the GE Café™ line.
Okay, now the news you’ll find most exciting. You can win your very own product from the GE Café™ line, a GE Café™ 120V Advantium oven!!! To enter to win the oven, head on over to my friends at BlogHer and check out all that the GE Café™ line has to offer, and then follow their instructions to enter between 10/20/11 – 11/9/11.
You can also win a $100 Visa gift card!!! I know, I know!!! I LOVE giveaways!
Who couldn’t use an extra $100?
Here are the rules for the $100 Visa gift card sweepstakes:
No duplicate comments.
You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods between 10/20/11 and 11/9/11:
a) Leave a comment on this post telling me what ingredient add-in you would choose for this soup. It can be dried cranberries or pomegranate seeds, like I mentioned, or you can share your own idea so we can all have fun experimenting!
b) Tweet about this promotion (Something like “Visit @DianasaurDishes to win $100 and a GE Café™ 120V Advantium oven http://bit.ly/oePwcA” and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
c) Blog about this promotion and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
d) For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry. This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older.
Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.
The Official Rules are available here.
Butternut Squash Soup Recipe
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
Yield: 5-7 servings
large yellow onion, diced
med white thin skinned potatoes (or other potatoes peeled), diced
butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced
orange juice (I used seasonal clementines)
orange zest (used clementines as well)
1 1/2 tsp
fresh ground pepper
fresh ground nutmeg
- Melt the butter in a large pot on medium, then add the onion. Stir to coat the onion in the butter and let cook 3 minutes until it starts to soften.
- Add the diced potatoes and squash and stir again. Let cook another 5 minutes, stirring every minute or so.
- Add orange juice, zest and vegetable stock. Stir and cover the pot. Let simmer for 30 minutes.
- Use an immersion blender (make sure it’s submerged, this soup is like napalm!) to blend the vegetables into a nice thick and creamy soup. Once blended, add salt pepper and spices, tasting as you go.
- Ladle soup into individual mugs or bowls and sprinkle with dried cranberries (pomegranate seeds are fun too!).
Visit the bloggers below for more recipes for the GE Café™ Fall Harvest progressive meal and for more chances to win!