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Need great soup recipe for my first Thanksgiving dinner -- please help!

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I'd like to make a simple soup to start out the meal on Thursday but there are so many choices out there, I'm feeling kind of paralyzed. I'd love to do something involving butternut squash that has been baked (don't feel like peeling and chunking up those little monsters), but I'm open to other ideas, too. Any foolproof crowd pleasing recipes you'd like to share? Thank you!

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  1. I recently made a butternut squash soup that was quite easy and elegant. Though I first cut up and peeled the squash, I don't see why it wouldn't work with a baked squash - you'd not need to simmer as long.

    For a 2.5 to 3-lb squash, in a large saucepan sweat in some butter a chopped onion. Add a minced clove of garlic if you like. Sweat in covered pan for five to ten minutes, until the onions are translucent; don't let them brown. If you like a curry flavor, add a tablespoon of good quality curry powder and a teaspoon of turmeric if you've got it. Cook the curry/turmeric in the sweated onions for a minute or two, then scoop in the baked squash and add 4 to 5 cups chicken stock. (You can easily use store bought with no adverse effects.) Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer, simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, until squash is tender, if using raw squash, or probably just five or ten minutes if using baked squash.

    Blend using an immersion blender. Or let the soup cool and puree it in a blender. If using a blender, return soup to saucepan and reheat to a low simmer.

    The soup can be served at this point; it will have a silky texture and look and taste lovely. But I like to add a bit of extra richness by stirring in a half-pint or so of heavy cream. You could also use creme fraiche or plain yogurt instead of the cream. Heat to bring the soup back up to temperature (but don't boil).

    Serve in individual soup bowls, sprinkling each serving with a bit of snipped fresh chives, or chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, or a bit of chopped fresh cilantro. A little dollop of creme fraiche on top of each soup before sprinkling on the fresh herb is a lovely contrast, and you could if you wished get all fancy and pull a skewer through the creme to make a pattern. Maybe even a tiny drizzle of a flavored oil floated on top.

    Once you make the basic butternut squash soup it lends itself to endless variations, but rest assured the basic soup is elegant and delicious, even if you choose to forgo the cream (but I urge its inclusion).

    1 Reply
    1. re: janniecooks

      That's almost exactly the recipe I just finished cooking. I usually add a couple of Stayman or Granny Smith apples, too. For toppings we've used whipped cream with a grating of fresh nutmeg, or toasted pepitas, or -- and this is a favorite of the kiddies at the table -- Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal. It may sound a little strange, but I got the idea after seeing a recipe for butternut squash soup in Cooks Illustrated several years ago. Their recipe called for labor-intensive cinnamon croutons. Cinnamon Toast Crunch is a good, easy substitute.

    2. you do need something simple for a first T-day. Below I've included a recipe for broccoli soup that my mom has been making for years. I love it because it has great flavor but it isn't super thick or heavy.

      You'll need 1 can evaporated milk, 3-4 Tbsp butter, 2-3 heads of broccoli(at my store they come in packs of three), 1 med. onion, 2 C strong chicken broth(you can use boullion cubes), and a blender).

      Dice 1 medium onion and saute for a few minutes in the pan you'll use to make the soup.
      Cut all broccoli (including peeled stems) into small pieces.
      Add 2 cups of strong chicken broth to the pan and then add the broccoli and simmer until the broccoli is soft but still green. The onions will disappear into the soup.
      Using a slotted spoon, put about 3/4 of the broccoli mixture into the blender (smooth soup= put all of the mixture in the blender) and pulse a few times until the broccoli is broken down to your liking (this will be the texture of your soup).
      Add the contents of the blender back into the soup pot (with the broth and un-blended broccoli) on medium heat. Add 1 can of evaporated milk and 3-4 tablespoons of butter and stir lightly while butter melts. Add S&P to taste. Do not let the soup boil. If you want a richer soup- add more butter!
      Once you get the taste you desire you can serve the soup. If you reheat it, don't boil it then either.

      1. Last year I made a mushroom soup using an Epicure recipe that someone here posted. It was delicious, and can be made ahead of time. Let me know if you want me to find the link for you.

        1. Here's a butternut squash soup that couldn't be simpler. Not dissimilar to the one posted by janniecooks, but this one has roasted garlic. This was my go-to Thanksgiving soup for years until I discovered the Kobocha Squash soup from Sunday Suppers at Lucques, but that's a lot more labor intensive.

          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3438...

          2 Replies
          1. re: JoanN

            The only thing about starting with a squash soup is that it might be repetitive if you're having pumpkin pie for dessert.

            Ruth Laffler made a wonderful cauliflower soup for a Chow picnic a few years ago - I think it had blue cheese in it. Amazing stuff. You could serve in small bowls so folks wouldn't get full before they start the main course.

            I found it!

            Ruth L.'s Stilton Cauliflower Soup (adapted from a recipe on epicurious.com)

            2 medium onions, finely chopped
            1 lb cauliflower florets, cut into 1-inch pieces
            6 tablespoons butter
            2 cups chicken broth
            2 cups beef broth
            2 1/4 cups whole milk
            2 tsp. cornstarch
            1/4 pound Stilton, crumbled
            1 cup light cream or half-and-half
            1/2 tsp. white pepper
            1/4 tsp. salt

            Cook onion and cauliflower in butter in a heavy stockpot over medium heat, stirring occasionally until onions are softened (8-10 minutes). Add broth and 2 cups milk, bring to a simmer, cover and cook until cauliflower is very tender (about 25 minutes).

            Puree cauliflower mixture until very smooth. Return to pot and bring to simmer. Whisk together cornstarch with remaining 1/4 cup milk, then add to soup and whisk until soup is slightly thickened, 1-2 minutes. Add Stilton, cream, pepper and salt and whisk over heat until Stilton is melted and soup is smooth.

            Makes 6-8 servings.

            I think it is better made the day before and reheated.

            1. re: oakjoan

              Not a problem for me. My mother doesn't like pumpkin pie. Too bad, since I do.

          2. If you want to "cheat" you can get roasted mashed butternut squash in the frozen foods section. Cook that in the microwave according to directions. Sautee onions (possibly apples or pears or something) in butter, add in chicken stock and sqush. Add any spices. Simmer, Finish with cream.

            You also can often find already peels and cut butternut squash in the stores around Thanksgiving.