At around 6:00 the other night, six-year-old Abby made her way into the kitchen to ask what she usually asks at 6:00 when I’m in the kitchen.
“Mom, what’s for dinner?”
Even though Andy had started hacking up a butternut squash about six hours earlier, even though I was standing there over a stock pot, wielding an immersion blender, minutes away from pureeing the cooked squash with apple into a lovely soup, I answered what I always answer when I’m not sure she’s going to like the answer.
“I don’t know yet.”
I had introduced the soup to the family last fall and I had the distinct recollection that her sister loved it. But I’m pretty sure Abby was lukewarm on it. And as far as I can tell, there’s no faster way to get her to reject something at the table than to give her an hour to think about exactly how lukewarm she was on it. The do-ask-don’t-tell policy is in place as much for my well-being as it is for hers. I can’t beat myself up for giving her something she doesn’t like if I didn’t know she didn’t like it, right? Not sure who I’m trying to convince here.
Butternut Squash Soup with Apples
2022 Update: The above post was written over a dozen years ago, and I’m pleased to report that now college-age Abby reliably, enjoyably consumes this soup, and in fact, has no memory of shunning it. (Parents of littles: There’s hope!) The recipe is a riff on Barefoot Contessa’s recipe, which is a riff on Silver Palate’s recipe. Totally back-pocket worthy.
1 medium onion, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
leaves from 2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tablespoon curry powder (madras or not)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 butternut squash (about 2 pounds), peeled, halved, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes; if you can find pre-chopped squash, by all means go for it (you want about 4 1/2 cups of squash cubes)
2 apples (Fuji, Macintosh, or Cortland preferred, but just about any will work except Red Delicious), peeled, cored, and cut into chunks
3 1/2 cups vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
drizzle of apple cider (optional)
Garnishes: chopped toasted walnuts or spicy pecans (shown in top photo), sour cream or crème fraiche, snipped chives
In a Dutch oven or a soup pot set over medium heat, brown the onion in olive oil until slightly wilted, about 3 minutes. Add salt, pepper, thyme, curry powder, and cayenne. Stir and cook to toast the spices a bit, about 1 minute. Add the squash and apples and enough broth to cover it all by about a half inch. Bring to a boil, then simmer 30 minutes until squash chunks are tender. Puree with a handheld immersion blender, or in batches in the blender, adding apple cider or more broth until it reaches desired consistency. Serve with desired toppings.
[Photo and recipe updated October 2022]