Sunday, November 13, 2011

It's a Soup Kind of Weekend

Sometimes I just need to make soup.  When autumn comes, and there is a cold wind blowing, nothing is warms body and soul like a pot of  homemade soup simmering on the stove.
Today's soup is one of my favorites, Butternut Squash. Easy, healthy, hearty and delicious. This recipe is an adaptation of one that appeared several years ago in Real Simple magazine.

Butternut Squash Soup
1 3-lb Butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into cubes (or cheat like I do and buy 2 packages of already cubed squash at Trader Joe's - those suckers are hard to cut up. You need about 2 lbs of cubes)
3 tbs olive oil
1/4-lb bacon
1 large yellow onion, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
about 6 large leaves of fresh sage, chopped
4-6 cups chicken broth (I like Trader Joe's Organic Free Range, or Swanson's Natural Goodness)
freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Heat the oven to 400. Toss the squash with 2 tbs of olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread it on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes.
While the squash is roasting, fry up some bacon in a heavy soup pot (my 6 qt LeCruset Dutch Oven works perfectly). 4 slices will do, though I usually cut up an entire pound and cook it all, because you can never have too much bacon on hand.
Set the bacon aside, pour off the fat, add the last of the olive oil to the bacon fat that clings to the pot, and saute the onion, celery and sage until the onion starts to caramelize and the celery is soft.
Add the roasted squash and the chicken broth and simmer uncovered for about 45 minutes.
Puree the whole thing - I have an immersion blender, so I do it right in the pot on the stove.  If you don't have one, use a regular blender and puree in batches. Check the seasoning - you may need to add salt, depending on how salty your bacon was.
Serve with a sprinkle of bacon bits and grated parmesan.  Don't skip this part - the smoky salty is a great balance for the sweetness of the squash and onions.
This makes a big pot of soup - It keeps well sealed in jars in the fridge, though I usually end up giving some away to friends.
Slices of toasted baugette spread with goat cheese are a perfect accompaniment.

On the knitting front, I sent off a new design to my friends at Kollage Yarns this week, and I have to say I'm happy to see it go.  For this project, I wrote up the pattern, then handed it off to Pat the Wonder Knitter.  When it came back, it was wrong. Just wrong. Too long, not hanging correctly, just bad. Not Pat's fault - the design was flawed. I begged more time from the client, ripped the whole thing out, re-worked the pattern and started again.

This design is made in Kollage's Milky Whey, a 50/50 blend of milk and soy.  The yarn is soft, with an incredibly fluid drape. This design was intended to make the most of that drape, but my original pattern included borders which caused constriction along all the edges, and spoiled the effect.  Now it works. Here's a sneak peek for you.
This was one of those projects that fell into a hole in the space/time continuum. It took 3 times longer than I thought it should.  In all fairness, I should point out that I am a master of self-delusion when it comes to how long a project will take. Still, this one is done, and it looks the way I want it to, and the client will love it (right, Susie? You do love it, don't you?).

Now I'm making swatches and sketches for a bunch of new designs, and plugging away on my handspun cardigan, which can only be worked on during 49er games (I get to work on it this afternoon. Hooray!).
I'm spinning the Rambouillet/Alpaca blend I bought at the Boonville Wool Festival a couple of months ago. This is some beautiful fiber - spinning it is pure joy. I'm spinning the singles as a fine semi-woolen, and plan to make a 3-ply that should come out to about sport wieight. I only bought 8 oz of fiber, and I'm thinking I should call Morgaine and see if I can get 8 more.

Heads up - the new issue of Twist Collective goes live on November 15!  I have a new design and an article in this issue. As usual, Kate's styling is spectacular, and the issue is packed with designs you'll want to knit.


  1. Sandi- Just had to let you know how much I LOVE your skirt design for the new Twist Collective. I never even look at skirts, being more well endowed in that particular part of my anatomy I spend a lot of time trying hard to hide it. But your design is gorgeous and looks like the kind I would knit as I think it would hold it's shape so much better. Just beautiful.

    And you article on increases is wonderful. I will be recommending it to all my students. Succinct and well illustrated, in a word, perfection.

    In an incredible issue your work stands out and I thought I should let you know how much I appreciate your effort. Thank you, Heidi Kozar