Pumpkin or Winter Squash Soups

2 recipes here!

The first, via Mark Bittman.
Soup based on pumpkin, or other winter squash like acorn or butternut, is a luxuriously creamy dish that requires only two main ingredients: a blender and a stove.
Yield 4 servings
Time About 45 minutes
A frequent mistake is to attack the squash with a standard vegetable peeler. Quicker and more reliable is to use a sharp, heavy knife. You'll take part of the flesh with it, but given the large size and small cost of winter squash, this is hardly a concern.

2 pounds peeled pumpkin or winter squash (weigh after peeling)
4 to 5 cups chicken or other stock
Salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Place pumpkin or squash in saucepan with stock to cover and a pinch of salt. Turn heat to high and bring to boil. Cover pan, and adjust heat so that the mixture simmers. Cook until pumpkin is very tender, about 30 minutes. If time allows, cool.
2. Place mixture in blender, in batches if necessary, and puree until smooth. (The recipe can be prepared a day or two in advance up to this point; cool mixture, place in a covered container, and refrigerate.) Reheat, adjust seasoning and serve.

Garnishing the soup:
-Add 1 teaspoon of ground ginger or 1 tablespoon of finely minced fresh ginger to the simmering soup.
-Add 1 teaspoon of curry powder (and if you have it, 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric) to the simmering soup.
-Add 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon of allspice and 1 small grating of nutmeg to the simmering soup.
- Serve soup with slices of peeled apples that have been lightly browned in butter.
-Garnish each bowl of soup with 3 or 4 grilled, sauteed, steamed or roasted shrimp, or use crab meat or lobster meat.
-Sauté about 1 cup of sliced mushrooms in butter or oil, and add them as a garnish. Chanterelles are best, but shiitakes (remember to discard the stems) or button mushrooms are also good.
-Dice about 1 cup of the squash (you will almost always have extra, especially with pumpkin) into 1/4-inch cubes, steam until tender, and use as a garnish.
-Garnish soup with chopped chervil, chives, parsley or dill.

2nd recipe, via Smitten Kitchen.
(Any winter squash will work in this soup, not just butternut or acorn.)
Serves 8

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
3 14 1/2-ounce cans low-salt chicken broth
4 cups 1-inch pieces peeled butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds)*
4 cups 1-inch pieces peeled acorn squash (about 1 1/2 pounds)*
1 1/4 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
1 1/4 teaspoons minced fresh sage
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 cup whipping cream

Melt butter in large pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Add broth, all squash and herbs; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until squash is very tender, about 20 minutes.
Working in batches, puree soup in blender. Return soup to same pot. Stir in cream and sugar; bring to simmer. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill. Rewarm over medium heat before serving.)

* If you are not confident in your knife skills or lack a very very sharp one, I’d suggest roasting the squash, halved and seeded, on a baking sheet coated lightly with oil at 425 until soft, scooping it into the pot, and cooking it the rest of the way there.

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