Muddy, Sweaty

The Winter Solstice is past.  The days must be getting longer, but here in Seattle, you’d never know it.  Just because the sun is technically above the horizon for, oh, eight hours or so every day doesn’t mean it’s sunny.  You get used to the grey skies and the drizzle, you really do.  And it’s not so bad, considering the trade-off.  Given the choice between a) mild, gloomy, and damp or b) clear, cold, scraping windshields, thawing locks, and shoveling snow, I’ll take option a, thank you very much. 

What with the scarcity of sunlight around here, I try not to let a little rain stop me from going outside and running on the weekends.  Okay, it’s not sunny, but there’s a bit of daylight out there! Sometimes I have to sternly remind myself that I really won’t melt, but once I get out there, I’m always glad I talked myself into it.  I’m not the only one in need of a little fresh air and exercise, rain or no rain, judging from the number of people and dogs I dodge as I run around Greenlake.   There must be a hint of Dennis the Menace somewhere in my personality, because I actually kind of enjoy getting wet, and muddy, and sweaty. 

But even better is coming home, and peeling out of the mud-spattered running clothes, and taking a long, hot shower.  Once I’m warm and clean and dry again, it’s time for a bowl of steaming soup. 

I’ve been testing out my theory that Julia Child’s Cream of Leek and Potato Soup can be transformed into Cream of Potato and Anything Soup with the substitution of practically any leftover vegetable.  Today’s version was made with butternut squash.  The squash was roasted with a variety of spices, which added depth to the soup, but I think this recipe would also hold up fine with plain roasted squash. 

The resulting soup was a rich gold, thick and satisfying enough to stand alone as a meal.  The Indian spices added a savory complexity to the taste.  Whether it’s a day to go out and get wet, or one to stay snug inside and hibernate, it’s soup season. 

Roasted Butternut Squash

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Peel squash, Slice in half, and remove seeds.  Cut squash into 1 inch cubes and place in a single layer in a large baking dish.  Sprinkle with olive oil, chipotle, turmeric, garam masala, curry powder, salt and pepper.  Stir to coat.  Cook for 30 minutes, or until squash is tender, stirring once during cooking. 

Cream of Potato and Butternut Squash Soup

(Adapted from Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom)

  • ¼ cup diced onion
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cups peeled and chopped baking potatoes
  • 3 cups leftover roasted butternut squash, in 1 inch cubes
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup broth
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • minced chives for garnish (optional)

In a large, heavy saucepan, sauté the onions in olive oil.  Add potatoes, liquid and salt and bring to a boil over high heat.  Cover partially, reduce heat, and simmer for 20-30 minutes until the potatoes are tender.  Add squash, correct the seasoning to taste, and puree with a handheld immersion blender. 

Whisk in the cream and reheat before serving.  Top each serving with a sprinkling of chives if desired.  Makes 6 servings.

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