Isn't it interesting how sometimes, when you're in the bottom of the bottomless pit (43,000 geek points for whoever can name that tune!), the universe tosses down a rope ladder?
Do-dee-doo-doo, do-dee-doo... it's that time of year once again when Jeopardy!'s online pre-test is made available for us mere mortals to try and match our wits against the seething pit of wiliness that is Alex Trebek and his team of question-crafters. And this time I'm registered for it, baby, and ready to go! Cross your fingers for me on the 29th at 4:30 p.m. It could be my ticket to fame, fortune and/or paying off my students loans... or, more likely, it'll just be a way for me to waste yet another valuable half-hour staring at my computer screen.
Why, yes, I am really far too old for anything as un(der)paid and smacking of college student as an internship! But I'm going to apply for a science writing internship with the Wild Salmon Foundation anyway. Just 'cause, y'know. Nature. Science. Writing. All them good things rolled into one snackable package requiring 10 to 20 hours per week of my devoted attention for a three- to six-month period.
For the last four or five Thanksgivings, my regular culinary contribution has been a curried butternut squash-apple soup from the Silver Palate Cookbook (an oldie but a goodie). After last Thanksgiving, my mom asked for the recipe so she could make the soup for her yoga friends. And last Friday, I brought the soup to share at Elizabeth's wonderful and homey 39th birthday party and two people asked me for the recipe. So without further ado, here it is, with the annotations I sent to my mom:
Curried Butternut Squash Soup
4 Tbsp butter
2 c. finely chopped onions (in practice, I just chop 2 largish ones)
4-5 tsp. curry powder
2 medium-size butternut squash (about 3 lbs altogether), peeled, seeded and chopped into roughly 1" pieces
2 tart apples (Granny Smiths work well), peeled, cored and chopped
3 c. broth (vegetable or chicken)
1 c. apple juice
salt and pepper to taste
1 shredded unpeeled apple for garnish (I've actually never done the garnish)
Melt butter in a pot. Add oinions and curry powder. Cook, covered, over low heat, until onions are very tender--about 25 min.
Pour in broth. Add squash and apples. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, unti squash and apples are very tender--again, about 25 min.
Pour soup through a strainer, reserving liquid. Working in batches if necessary, puree solids with a little of the cooking liquid (about 1 cup total) until smooth.
Return puree to pot. Add apple juice. Stir in additional cooking liquid, about 2 cups, until soup is of "desired consistency." (I think I desire it a little thicker than the Silver Palate ladies do.)
Season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer briefly to heat through and serve immediately, garnished with shredded apple.
Notes on Butternut Squash:
I find it not all that hard to peel them with a regular (non-Grandma style) vegetable peeler and a firm hand. To split them open for seeding, I just use a regular chef's knife as follows: raise knife above head, bring down into squash (lying on its side) with a firm WHACK, push knife the rest of the way through squash by applying firm pressure with both hands to handle and top of blade. (As if it were a stubborn cheese knife.) Once it's halved, it seems to yield to chopping fairly well; just lean into the knife a bit.
Thanks go out to the universe for providing two ways to potentially dig myself out from under some of this crushing debt/pile of mounting bills that's largely responsible for my current crappy-ass mood. (Game show contestant. Now there's a career goal.) And thanks to butternut squash for tasting so inimitably delicious in soup.