Butternut Squash Soup

This is Frankie (my cousin, he's 8), helping me cut out sugar cookie candycanes! 
I've done a lot of cooking and baking these past few days since I've been home.  I really missed my kitchen with all of its equipment and cleanliness (thanks mom) and granite countertops and space - all of the space I need to have multiple food projects going and watch movies/shows with my mom's iPad at the same time.  I've been testing recipes for her, since she and my dad participate in an international dinner "club" (she hesitates to call it a club but... it's a club) with their friends every month, and this Saturday it's their turn to cook the meal.  So you'll all be hearing about that later this week.  In any case, I've gone America's Test Kitchen for the past couple days.  But last night I slept over at my cousin Frankie's house with my Auntie Emy and Uncle Frank, so no more ATK for now; however, we did cook and bake a lot - Ina Garten's ginger cookies, sugar cookies decorated with royal icing, my Nutella cake, and my butternut squash soup (with grilled cheese to go with it, mmmm).

They're supposed to be candycanes but I made a dinosaur.  Rawr. 

The butternut squash soup is my own recipe.  I've been fiddling with different ingredients for a long time, and last night's version turned out really well.  I've tried such additions as cocoa powder (weird, but good), soy sauce, garlic, et cetera, but I found that orange zest and juice do the trick.  I usually don't like to post about recipes that require expensive equipment to which some people don't have access.  But this soup is such a favorite of mine that I had to share it... You need a blender or food-processor to purée the final product (I imagine a food mill would also work, but I haven't tried it).  Ginger and cumin are my two favorite spices, and they work well together here with the squash and hint of citrus.  If I'd had fresh ginger I would've used it in place of the dry by grating in a tablespoon-ish, so if you are a ginger fan like I am then I'd recommend that (my mom dislikes ginger but really enjoys this soup when I make it for her, so don't be discouraged from this recipe).  It also takes less than an hour from start to finish... Just be careful when you're loading your blender/food-processor (only fill it up 1/3 of the way at a time, and pulse it to purée... Unless you want molten-hot soup exploding all over your kitchen).

Unfortunately, I was so excited to eat the soup that I forgot to take pictures of it.  Yeah.  Oops.  Next time I make it, I will update with soup photos.  For now, enjoy the cookie pictures!

Update (December 30): I made this soup for Christmas dinner, so I've got a picture now

Butternut Squash Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 butternut squash (~2 lbs.); peeled, seeded, and diced into 1" cubes
1 onion, diced
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced into 1" cubes
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 golden delicious apple, peeled and diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
4-8 c veggie or chicken stock
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground ginger (or 1 tablespoon fresh, peeled and grated)
1 orange, zested and juiced
salt and pepper

Heat olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat.  Add onion, carrot, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste, then cook until the vegetables have softened.  Stir in the spices (cumin, coriander, and ginger), then cook a couple minutes more to perfume.

Add the remaining veggies, and enough stock to cover everything, then bring it to a boil over high heat.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the squash and sweet potato are fall-apart tender, ~20 minutes.

Adjust seasoning, add the orange zest and juice, then purée until smooth.  Serve with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt or sour cream.

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