This Thanksgiving, instead of sitting down to a table crowded end-to-end with turkey and side dishes, we have decided to start with a first course. It’s not as if we are making culinary history. Ancient Greeks kicked off their festivities with bits of fish and cheese, and Renaissance chefs did the same thing with thin rolls of grilled veal. All we have in mind is soup.
But it can’t be just any soup. Because of the last minute bedlam that usually hits the Thanksgiving kitchen, we need a recipe that can be made ahead and served without fuss. Whatever we choose, it has to be more interesting than broth but nothing too filling. We want a starter that will introduce the meal, but let everyone know it is just to rev up their appetites—in other words, something light.
Chowders and cream soups are the first things that come to mind, and after bouncing ideas around, we settled on butternut squash soup. The starchy winter squash will give the soup the texture of a chowder, and pureeing it would give the “creaminess” of cream soup.
Most groceries carry pre-cubed butternut squash. Using it makes this soup a snap. If you want to start with whole butternuts, you’ll need to peel them. Cut off both ends with a sharp knife, and place bell-side down on a cutting board. Use a vegetable peeler to scrape off the thick skin and an ice cream scoop to remove seeds. Then cut the squash into cubes.
Butternut Squash Soup
2 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks (about 3 cups cubed)
4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 cup low-fat sour cream
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
Chopped fresh chives
1. To prepare soup, combine squash and broth in a large saucepan; bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium, cover and simmer until squash is tender, about 20 minutes. Uncover and let cool. Purée squash in blender or food processor. Return purée to saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Stir in sour cream, butter and cayenne. Add salt and white pepper. If squash lacks sweetness, add sugar. Cook soup just until thoroughly heated but not boiling. Ladle into bowls and garnish with chives. Serves 6.
Recipe by Chef Jon Ashton
Per serving: 130 calories, 8g fat, 25mg chol., 5g prot., 212g carbs., 1g fiber, 530mg sodium
Look for Relish magazine, celebrating America’s love of food, each month in the Tooele Transcript-Bulletin. For more Relish recipes, go to relish.com.
Photo credit: Mark Boughton Photography; styling by Teresa Blackburn