So, how normal is it to eat whole cloves of garlic when you’re sick? This isn’t one of those times when I’m “asking for a friend.” I just found out that several of my friends do this and I am appalled. Forreal. I’m surrounded by weirds. I just can’t imagine the taste/visceral/emotional experience of a whole clove of garlic waxily traveling down my throat. Sick. Whole cloves of garlic don’t belong anywhere unless they’re roasted, and then they belong on a crusty piece of bread, all smeared around with butter or olive oil. Yeah, that’s right, bread full of gluten and butter full of dairy! I get that this flu season has been atrocious and I’m all for food being our most powerful medicine, but there are some roads I just won’t travel. Whole, raw garlic swallowing is one of them. Instead, I’ll make some soup.
I’ve talked about soup-making before (here and here and probably elsewhere); it’s a favorite pastime. There is nothing better after going for a run on a drizzly Saturday afternoon than making soup for some friends. That’s what I did a couple Saturdays ago. I was trying to get myself to clean my room or go to the store or update my resume or generally be a productive human being when I noticed that the gigantic, beautiful butternut squash I had on the counter was eyeing me. It had probably been talking to my brand new immersion blender.
Side note: Have you noticed how invested my friends and family are in my kitchen quality of life? I told you about the time my parents got me Simon Darre the Kitchen Aid for my birthday, and my ensuing freak out. I’ve also told you about the time the Catholics got me incredible Wusthof knives, and my ensuing freak out. This Christmas, you may remember, my mom got my sister and me the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook (signed—I don’t think I told you that. What up Deb Perlman!) and a really special collection of my grandmother’s handwritten recipes. What I did not tell you was that she also got me an immersion blender (magic wand, whatever). Hey Mom, thanks! I’ve been having smoothie breakfasts thanks to you! (Favorite: mango, avocado, and spinach blended with plain yogurt. Go for it. If you have cilantro and lime, go for that too. I just haven’t had any.)
Anyway, that Saturday I was feeling pretty much like the weather, and the thought of soup and friends changed my whole day around. It was the weekend before classes started for my grad student friends, and I hadn’t seen most of them yet after Christmas. So I texted a few people and started peeling squash.
Butternut squash is in a three-way tie for my favorite winter vegetable (with parsnips and sweet potatoes, duh). It has to be the best of all the squashes. I often feel like soup is a waste of butternut squash because it’s so good on its own—I usually just cut it up and roast it with a tiny splash of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. BUT, this time of year, when there are piles of inexpensive squashes in the grocery store, I don’t feel as bad about it. Know what else I don’t feel bad about? Beer. And so:
Guinness Butternut Squash Soup
- 1 giant butternut squash
- 1 quart of vegetable broth
- 1 yellow onion
- 2-3 cloves of garlic
- 10ish fresh sage leaves
- 2-3 tsp fresh ginger
- salt and pepper
- a bottle of Guinness
- a generous splash of Half & Half
- Preheat your oven to 350. Yeah, we’re making soup.
- Peel, then cut the squash into half inch cubes and roast on a cookie sheet with some olive oil for 25-30 minutes.
- Dice the onion and sautee in your stock pot with a splash of oil and a pinch of salt until translucent. Add the garlic and ginger, both minced, and sautee for another minute. Add several turns of black pepper and the sage leaves, chiffonaded (am I allowed to say that?).
- Turn up the heat and deglaze with that whole bottle of Guinness. (I know, I’m sorry, just open one for yourself too.)
- Carefully add your roasted squash and enough stock to cover the squash in the pot, then turn the heat back down to a simmer.
- When everything is really soft, get out your sweet new immersion blender and go to town. If you don’t have an immersion blender you can transfer the soup to a regular blender in batches.
- The soup will be extremely thick so add in more stock as you go until you get the consistency you want. If you run out of stock, just start adding water.
- Finish with a splash of Half & Half, probably some more black pepper, and salt to taste.
This is not a pretty soup (what with the dark Guinness and the roasted squash) but it is savory and warming and good. And it would not be opposed to being topped with bacon. What would, really?