I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for Thanksgiving. I’m ready for Vermont, itching to get out of the city. And it’s not that I don’t love New York, but I need to be surrounded by trees and mountains for awhile. Brooklyn, you don’t count – you never wear me out. But Manhattan – I’m looking at you. Today’s commute alone was that final straw that made me want to be instantly transported to rural New England. I wanted to be in a rustic house, wearing wool socks and eating this soup. I think it could do lots of soothing things for my soul. And if yours needs soothing, might I suggest a bowlful?
Soup is a funny thing. It strikes me as a thing people can tolerate, or love. But apparently, there are people out there who hate soup. I don’t get it. It’s a little like hating “WALL-E”. How can anyone hate Wall-e with his Short Circuit physique and his love of “Hello, Dolly!” But I once overheard people discussing it on the subway, and called it pointless and silly. I wanted to interject and offer up my arguments for WALL-E’s innate genius, but thought better and kept my opinions to myself.
Soup is, apparently, very similar in that it also draws polarized views. Last year I went to a party where, in conversation, a man told me he didn’t eat soup, period. He thought soup pointless – “all that much swimming about in liquid” – hot or cold he wasn’t having any. Not a problem – more for me, but such strong dislike of something so seemingly benign is a little funny. And while I can’t speak for all Russians, my family is a soup eating family, and in my mother’s kitchen, there is always some kind of soup lingering. So I make soup a lot, particularly this time of year. And I like making it almost as much as I like eating it.
Well, this soup I have for you here is a pureed soup. It is thick, velvety, and generously spiced. If you live in the Northeast, you know we’re in for some chilly weather, and you might want to have this on hand for the week if not for Thanksgiving itself, then for the weekend at the very least – it’ll warm you up in case you get cold. The backbone of this soup, the thing that gives it nice depth and dimension, comes from a good amount of onions which you then saute with garam masala. You let it all mix and meld together as the onions grow pale and soft before adding your squash and carrots. After a gentle simmer, the vegetables soften and fall apart, and this is when you will add your orange juice and cider. If you have oranges on hand, I can’t recommend using them over a premade orange juice – there’s a brightness to the freshly-squeezed stuff that is a little bit like sunshine in your bowl. A quick whir of an immersion blender and you wind up with this magnificent, fragrant, orange-colored soup. It’s one heck of a way to kick-start your Thanksgiving festivities – it sure makes a statement. The heat just kind of sneaks up on you and a few spoons in, you notice a warmth spreading in the back of your throat.
But I think that this soup’s true beauty is that it’s also a quiet soup in many ways, fitting for those still, quiet moments. On the Friday following the feast, it’s the kind of soup you want to curl up with while sitting in a cozy armchair as you look out the window. The kind of soup that allows for the holiday to linger, but without the fanfare and frazzle of the previous day, and the kind that refuses to recognize that something called “Black Friday”. We all deserve a little bit of linger in our holiday. Happy Thanksgiving.
Spiced Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp olive oil
3 medium onions, chopped
2 tbsp garam masala
4 lbs butternut squash – about 2 medium squash
1 lb carrots
2 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp freshly ground pepper
2 cups vegetable stock
Juice of 2 oranges
1 cup apple cider
Warm the butter, olive oil, onions and garam masala over low heat in a large stockpot. Cook for 20 minutes, until the onions are translucent and tender, stirring from time to time.
Meanwhile, using a vegetable peeler, peel the squash and cut squash in half. Remove the seeds, and cut the squash into chunks. Peel and slice the carrots.
Add the squash, carrots, salt, pepper, and the vegetable stock to the pot. Bring everything to a boil, cover, and cook over low heat for 40 minutes until the vegetables are very soft. Using your immersion blender, puree the soup until it is creamy, thick, and smooth.
Add the orange juice and the apple cider and cook for another 5 minutes or so. Adjust the seasonings and serve immediately.