First of all, I just want to say that I am in still totally in awe over the election. I am so proud of our country right now and I feel like we witnessed something truly revolutionary and monumental. Everytime I see an image online or in the newspaper or in tv that says President Obama, I still get teary-eyed. I’m looking forward to see him in action. It’s a new world right now.
Onto food! But first…the events of the day last Sunday. I swear it has to do with food! Just read on. So, last Sunday (the 2nd) was one of my favorite days of the year to be a New Yorker. (Oh crap. I’m watching Andy Rooney talk about the election and I’m crying again. It’s probably never going to stop for the next 8 years.) Last Sunday was the New York Marathon! It’s such a fun day for both runners and non runners. The entire marathon roams through all five boroughs so no matter where you live, you can probably find some close-ish to go watch. Also, because it travels through the entire city, the whole course is swamped with fans along every inch. Us New Yorkers love to cheer! Last year I went to my friend’s apartment in Brooklyn who lives right on the course on 4th Ave and we sat out her window for 5 hours cheering for every single runner, from the amazing elite men and women to the walkers in the back. So, this year, knowing I wasn’t going to be able to go back to my friend’s in Brooklyn, I got a friend to go with me to 1st Ave in Manhattan to cheer. We got there just in time to see the elite women (they go first)….
They were pretty amazing to watch. I mean their legs! How the hell do they move so fast!?!?! And those strides!! Huge! And oh my god those abs. I mean, Paula Radcliffe just had a baby like 20 months ago! Jealous. Oh so jealous. After watching the amazing women (Paula won…she is so amazing) we had brunch right there on 1st Ave (Le Pain Quotidien. Mmmmmm praline spread mmmmmm) and went right back outside to watch the rest of the marathon. We missed the elite men but that didn’t matter…there were still TONS of people coming through. We spent the next 3 hours standing on the street cheering our little butts off. It was FREEZING but that didn’t matter. If you’ve never cheered at a marathon before, a lot of runners write their names on their shirts to they can be called out and cheered for by name. We shouted for many Bob’s and Dan’s and Ali’s and Jen’s and names longer than 3 letters too. We shouted for Italians and Australians and guys in green shirts and Buffalo Bills shirts. Anything to make a runner look our way and encourage a big smile and get them going. We were definitely the loudest in our little vicinity and even had two groups of people come up to us and ask us to help them cheer for their friends when they came through. We even had an Italian runner tell us we were the two prettiest things on the course. I’ll take compliments from delirious marathon runners any day! It made me even more excited about my future marathon…whenever that might be. Ooooo, it was fun. I love marathons and cheering for them. Seeing all those runners reach that huge goal after all those week of training is pretty amazing and such a blast! I’ll be there one day…
So, by the time I trekked all the way home (it’s a trek…60+ blocks. in the wind and cold) I was freeeezing, as was my apartment. You see, the day before it wasn’t so cold and I had the window open in my room as did one of my roommates. So my apartment wasn’t much respite from the weather outside which meant that I needed an outside source to warm me up. My body was cold, my throat was scratchy and sore from all the screaming (those runners better had appreciated my screaming!)-there was only one possible answer. Soup. Creamy, delicious, warming soup. And I knew exactly what kind to make. Well, considering I had planned this whole thing the day before, of course I knew what kind to make. Butternut squash of course! My favorite part of autumn, butternut squash soup on a cold was just the ticket. However, I’ve made tons of baked butternut squash before but never butternut squash soup. The reason? I don’t have a stick blender which is needed to make the soup creamy and blendy (is that a word? well, as I’m typing this, a red line appeared underneath, so I think now. I don’t care!) But guess what? I still don’t have one, so I needed to work around that. The second problem was that I didn’t have a tried and true recipe that I feel like one needs for a classic butternut squash soup. Did I want to try something new? Heck no…I’m the queen of making up my own recipes. I was going to wing it!
By the way…I apologize or the lengthiness of this post. I don’t know what’s going on…
So here’s how my recipe came together. I picked up a nice squash at the farmer’s market the Saturday before and decided to wander to find something else to put in. I didn’t want it to be just squash so I was looking for some farmer’s market inspiration. I found it quickly in the most bountiful fall veg at the market. Apples!! Wait a minute…thats not a veg. But that’s besides the point. Seriously though, every single farmer has bushels of apples overflowing so I had to take advantage of it. And I swear I had seen a recipe somewhere that said that apples are great in a butternut squash soup. (after I made this I saw about 4 butternut squash soup recipes with apples in it, so I was totally right. I always am.) Along with the squash and apples, I picked up some onions and garlic and was on my way.
Fast-forward to the next day (afternoon of the marathon) and mustered up all my post-marathon cheering strength to make this soup! I first peeled and chopped the squash, apples and onions, tossed it with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and spread it out in a large pan along with a bunch of whole garlic cloves (maybe 6?).
Remember that I needed to get over the lack of stick blender but still wanted a creamy soup? I decided to roast the bejesus out of everything so they were as mushy as possible. I pumped the oven to maybe 375 or 450 and roasted it all for about an hour and a half, until it was as roasted as possible. Here’s what it looked like when it was the desired mushiness.
As much as I wanted to dig in right there (who doesn’t love plain roasted autumn veggies?) I persevered in my slightly less freezing apartment (the oven made it a little more toasty) to turn this mush into soup. I tossed all that mush into my handy dutch oven along with a quart of veggie stock (I use Whole Foods brand-it’s cheap as all heck and good), about 3 ladle-fuls of water and a bunch of fresh thyme. I then took my potato masher and mashed the concoction to death. Well, not that much because I still wanted it a little chunky. Because I let it cook so long, the mashing was so easy and it became a real soup pretty quickly! I then covered it and let it simmer for about 30 minutes.
I was way too excited to dig in when I decided it was done. I filled up a bowl and cozied up on the couch while watching the Amazing Race. This was not one of those recipes where I wasn’t sure if it was going to be good or not. I knew it was going to amazing (like the race!)…it was. Honestly, I think it’s the best soup I’ve ever made, and I’ve made tons of soups before. It was a gorgeous deep orange color-dark because I had roasted it so much and had so much flavor. I couldn’t taste the apple but it tasted subtly sweeter because of the apple. Also, because it had all be roasted, there were lots of bits of carmelized burnt pieces that were kinda chewy and fantastic to eat. And the thyme…ooo that thyme. My favorite herb made the whole soup. And it was still a little chunky which made it a little more exciting that just a straight creamy soup. Overall, it was so incredible and perfect and the ideal throat soother for a sore marathon cheering soup. Next year, maybe I’ll need post marathon running soup. Who knows. The lottery pickers at the New York Marathon know. They hold my fate in their hands.
Butternut Squash and Apple Soup
1 butternut squash
2 large, firm apples (I used Mutsu. Choose a crispy baking variety)
2 medium yellow onions
5 garlic cloves
salt & pepper
1 quart veggie stock
Peel the butternut squash and chop into small pieces. Chop the apples and onions into similar size pieces (keep the peel on the apples). Toss all chopped produce along with the peeled but whole garlic cloves with a few tablespoons of olive oil and salt and pepper. Put it all in a baking dish in a pretty thin layer and bake at 375 for about an hour and a half, mixing twice during baking, until quite mushy. Put all the baked squash, apples and onions into a large pot (like a dutch oven) along with the stock and water. Mash with a potato masher until it reaches your desired smoothness. Add the thyme. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes. Eat it on a cold day to warm your soul. Mmmmm.
Oh, and there’s going to be no recap of Chris’ birthday.