Thursday, September 16, 2010

Butternut Squash and Barley Soup

G2 and I took a little trip to Nashville last weekend to see Pixies at The Ryman Auditorium (SO much fun!). On the recommendation of some friends, we had brunch the next day at Germantown Cafe. I had the most amazing butternut squash soup and have been craving it ever since. I wanted to add a grain to make it more of a meal, and I hadn't really tried barley since the barley cereal debacle when Graham was first starting solids. I have been a little hooked on the "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian" book, by Mark Bittman (when I'm not reading textbooks) and used his method to cook the barley:
basically 1 cup of barley mixed with 3 cups of water and salt, brought to boil, and simmered until it's done (about 20 minutes). It was pretty tender and there still some water left, so I drained it off. I tossed it with some rosemary olive oil and set it aside until the soup was finished.

For the soup:
olive oil and 1 Tbsp butter
1 onion, diced
couple cloves of garlic, chopped
1 butternut squash, peeled, scooped and chopped into large squares
1 quart of vegetable stock
salt and pepper
couple splashes of cooking sherry (I know you shouldn't cook with anything you wouldn't drink, but I don't think I've ever had sherry and I did have this in the cabinet. It just needed a little something for acidity and this did the trick).
Sauté the onion, garlic and sea salt in the oil/butter mixture until onions are soft and fragrant. Add the butternut squash and cover with broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to med-highish and cover. Cook until squash is tender. Add more salt and pepper and then puree it with an immersion blender. Stir in the sherry. For a thinner soup, add more liquid. I'm sure cream would be a wonderful addition, too, but in the name of health and all....I skipped it.

I put the soup in a bowl with a big scoop of the barley on top. I also drizzled a little more of the rosemary olive oil over the top. It was definitely not the refined version I had on Sunday (cream might have had something to do with that), but it was hearty and delicious on it's own merit. We had it with some whole clove garlic bread which rounded it out as a great meal.

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