Can’t sleep. Can’t breathe. The cherry NyQuil and OJ Shirley Temple I mixed up (the Sick Shirley) has not kicked in yet. And so I’m up poking around the internet, figuring out how to do fun stuff like this. I have a cold. A drippy-nosed cold, the kind where you can generally breathe fine through one nostril but not at all through the other, and it feels like your brain is swathed in cotton batting. And when you run all the way down to the basement to change the laundry and come back up again, you have to sit down for a rest. Fortunately I’ve been on a bit of a soup kick lately, so I had some at the ready.
LOOK AT THE COLOUR OF THIS SOUP! It’s not part of the effect – this is what it looks like – a mug of lipstick/fire engine/nail enamel red paint. In Vancouver last week, I was lucky enough to stay at the new Fairmont Pacific Rim, which again made me question my decision to marry for love, not money. Downstairs in the giovani café there was a beet and butternut squash soup on the menu that I didn’t get, but the power of suggestion is strong with me. I wish I would have seen if it was chunky (like borscht) or smooth (like squash soup). I decided, since I’m totally into sippable soups right now (like I used to be into Vans and Social Distortion), that I’d do a purée. I roasted the squash and beets first, and added a splash of orange juice because it was in the fridge. It puréed into a brilliant red, the orange squash offsetting the Barney purple shade of beet. Lovely. And far better the second day. Particularly with a dollop of sour cream on top, which you could, if you wanted to, draw a bamboo skewer through to make a heart.
Roasted Beet and Butternut Squash Soup
canola or olive oil, for cooking
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced
2-3 beets, tops trimmed
1 large onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, crushed
1-2 cups orange juice
1 L chicken or vegetable stock
a big splash of half & half (optional)
sour cream, for serving (optional)
Preheat the oven to 450F. Spread the squash out on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with oil. Wrap the beets individually in foil. Place the sheet in the oven and the beets directly on the rack; roast for 30 minutes, or until the squash is soft and turning golden on the edges.
In a medium pot, heat a drizzle of oil over medium heat and saute the onion for a few minutes, until starting to soften. Add the garlic and roasted squash. When they’re cool enough to handle, peel and chop the beets; add to the pot along with the orange juice and stock and simmer for about half an hour.
Add the cream, puree the soup with a hand-held immersion blender and season with salt to taste. Serve warm with a dollop of sour cream. Serves 6.
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