Friday, February 24, 2012

Butternut Squash Chowder

This recipe comes from the Slow Cooker Revolution book by America's Test Kitchen.

Wow... this recipe was delicious. The flavors are really subtle and it's the perfect mix of sweet and savory and rich and amazing. So great. I made it for our Anniversary Dinner and it was perfect.

Butternut Squash Chowder

4 ounces bacon (about 4 slices), minced
1 onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tsp minced fresh thyme, or 1/2 tsp dried
1/8 tsp nutmeg, plus extra as needed (I ended up using about 1/4 tsp by the end)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 cups vegetable broth*
3 lbs butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 bay leaves
1 Tbs vegetable oil
Salt and Pepper
8 ounces kale, stemmed and leaves sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 Tbs minced fresh sage (I didn't have any so I used a scant tsp dried, and added it with the kale)
1 Tbs. brown sugar
Grated Parmesan cheese for serving

* I didn't have any vegetable broth so in place of this I used 3 cups of homemade chicken and vegetable broth that was considerably milder (and less salty) than normal canned chicken broth. You could probably also replace this with 2 cups chicken broth, 1 cup water.

1.   Cook bacon in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until crisp (about 5 minutes). Stir in onion, garlic, thyme, and nutmeg. Cook until onion is softened and lightly browned (about 8 or 10 minutes). Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in 2 cups chicken broth, scraping up any browned bits (aka: flavor). Dump it all in your slow cooker. (Just for future reference, I nearly always use a 6 quart slow cooker.)

2.   Stir in all remaining broth, half of the cubed squash, and bay leaves.

3.   Tear out a large sheet of aluminum foil. Put the other half of the squash in the middle(ish) of it. Dump the vegetable oil on it, and season it generously with salt and pepper. Fold up the foil kind of like you would a foil dinner. Make sure it's small enough to fit inside your crockpot. Lay it on top of the soup.  Cover and cook until squash is tender (4 to 6 hours) on low.

4.   Take the foil packet out of the slow cooker and set it on a plate to the side for a while. Discard bay leaves. Stir in kale (and sage if using dry sage). Cover and cook on high until the kale is tender (20 to 30 minutes).

5.   Carefully open the foil packet (watch out for steam) and dump the squash and any juice in the packet into the soup. Stir in cream, sage (if using fresh sage), and sugar. Let it heat through (5 minutes). Add salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste. Serve with Parmesan cheese on top.

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