I dunno what NYC thinks its up to, but I'm pretty sure we should be well into Autumn by now. This time two years ago we were just planning to head upstate for the most epic thanksgiving in a wee airbnb just out of Hudson, and this time last year we were still in NZ, having just gotten married! Either way, it should most definitely be colder here. Not impressed.
I think it's pretty fair to say that the last few weeks have been a bit shit. The Election madness of last week, coupled with the massive earthquake that hit NZ on Monday morning, has resulted in a bit of a rough week. Thank goodness that my friends and family are all ok, aside from being a little shaken (had to do it), but it really puts things into perspective about how turbulent and fragile our wee planet really is. Being the geology nerd I am, some parts of the earthquake damage, while devastating, are FASCINATING. Check out the uplift on these sea beds! Crazy! 2m of sea bed has been uplifted. Orogeny in action. Huge thanks to everyone who checked in and made sure it was all ok at home. Being far away when things like this happen really really sucks, and having people who recognise that makes it all so much easier. Much much love.
Something that I have been doing lately to help combat the general shit feeling about everything is making giant batches of soup, and popping it all in bags in the freezer. It means that we can have a really easy, delicious dinner at a moment's notice, which has been extra helpful lately as we are totally slammed with the Christmas lead up rush, and coming home when it's dark and cold to dinner that can be ready in 10 minutes makes all of the difference.
Autumn veggies just work so perfectly in soup. Our CSA finished a few weeks ago, but in the weeks before it finished it felt as if each week's share consisted of only squash, so we still have a giant pile to use up! My favourite way to make soup is to just bang all of the vegetables on a sheet pan, roast until they are tender, then pop them in a pot with a little stock, bring it all together, then blend till smooth. Works (almost) every time, with the exception of a really weird cauliflower garlic soup I attempted recently which ended up a super odd consistency.
The roast, boil blend method most definitely works for butternut though! Roasting the squash, garlic and onion really gives it another depth of flavour, and it is finished off with brown butter and sage (because I can't resist), and some salted pumpkin seeds. I've also included our favourite dinner roll recipe, which makes the perfect accompaniment! I generally use the bread maker to prepare the dough for me (lazy life FTW), but you can most definitely prep the bread either by hand or using a stand mixer. The roll recipe can be doubled if you want to have extra rolls for lunches, dinners, burger buns etc.
Roast Butternut soup with fresh bread rolls
- Serves 6-8 -
Roll recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour
Two 1 kg (2 lbs) butternut, de-seeded and cut into about four pieces each
2 heads of garlic, tops cut off to reveal cloves
2 red onions, halved
6 cups (1.5L, 48oz) water
1 vegetable stock cube
1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
1 Tbsp Sugar
1 tsp salt
1 large egg white
4 Tbsp (60g, or 60ml) soft unsalted butter, or vegetable oil
3/4 cups (180) lukewarm water
2 3/4 cups (345g) Bread Flour
1 stick (113g) butter
1 bunch fresh sage
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, lightly roasted and salted
- PROCESS -
Add all ingredients in the order specified by your bread machine manual, and mix on the dough cycle.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the water, sugar and yeast, and allow to sit until foamy. Add the salt, egg white and butter, and whisk to combine. Add the flour, and mix using the dough hook on medium-low for 7-8 minutes, until the dough is strong and smooth. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, and leave to rise covered for approximately 90 minutes, or until doubled in size.
Remove the dough from the bread maker or oiled bowl, and turn onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 8 pieces (I like to weigh the total amount of dough, and divide that number by 8), and shape into balls. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat, leaving about 1/2 an inch between to allow room for rising. Cover lightly with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for 30-40 minutes. Toward the end of the rising period, preheat the oven to 400f/200c. Bake the rolls for 20-25 minutes, or until a deep golden brown. Allow to cool slightly before serving.
Preheat oven to 400f/200c. On a lightly oiled sheet pan, place butternut, onion and garlic. Drizzle lightly with oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for approximately an hour, checking on the garlic and onion after 30 minutes, until the butternut is fork tender. Remove the garlic and onion if necessary if they are done before the butternut. Allow to cool.
Using a spoon, scoop the flesh from the butternut and place into a large pot. Add the roasted onion, and squeeze the contents of the garlic heads in. Add the stock cube and water, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15-20 minutes. In batches, blend in a high-powered blender until smooth. Alternatively you can use an immersion blender. Feel free to add more liquid if you like your soup a more runny consistency - just return to the pot and add water, and mix well to combine.
Place the butter in a small pot over low to medium heat. Once melted, add sage leaves. Cook the butter until it is deep brown, and smells nutty, and the sage leaves are crispy. Remove from heat and pour into a bowl to stop the cooking process.
Pour the soup into serving bowls. Drizzle over some of the brown butter, add some of the fried sage leaves, and sprinkle with roasted salted pumpkin seeds.