How do you feel about kitchen gadgets? I know friends who cannot live without theirs – be it the super high power blenders, instapots, food processors, stand mixers, hand blenders, rotimatics, electric can openers (huh?)…If you are reading this, you know who you are..ha ha. I, though, take my own sweet time to warm up to any type of kitchen gadget – big or small, high speed or slow, expensive or not. My biggest consideration, most times, is “Do I need this?” “How will it make my life easy?” How much counter-space will it take?”…and on and on.
Few gadgets that I have grown to like immensely are my hand blender (used: daily), my stand mixer (used: every other day if not daily), toaster oven (used: daily, multiple times a day) and my slow cooker/ crockpot. Not very useful kitchen gadgets that I own include: stand mixer grinder attachment, panini press, microwave, electric can opener (huh?).
I love my slow cooker. The model that I have has different time and power settings and it turn to “warm” automatically when the cooking time is up. I like the flexibility and convenience of just dumping in a bunch of ingredients, go to work, or go run some errands, spend a day at a spa (oooh), and come home to a meal that is way better than take out or pizza delivery. I am consistently trying to cook traditional recipes that are labor intensive and time consuming, in my slow cooker (see Butter chicken, Tostadas). Crockpot is perfect for soups and this butternut squash soup recipe is so delicious that when you take that first luscious bite, you wouldn’t know that it’s made with ingredients that were just thrown together in a slow cooker, totally neglected and ignored for a couple of hours, and then angrily blended together. This soup is one of the easiest and creamiest fall soups that is out there and it is so good for you.
Butternut squash is so versatile – you can roast it, boil it, sauté it, slow cook it and use it in soups, salads, daals/lentils (recipe here), lasagna, risotto; the possibilities are endless. Nutritionally speaking, it is an excellent combination of being low in fat, and high in fiber; it provides significant amounts of essential elements like potassium and manganese; and is great source of Vitamin B6. All these properties make it great for maintaining blood pressure, important for bone health, maintaining healthy digestive tract, reducing inflammation and promoting general immunity.
Here is the simple recipe of butternut squash soup:
Butternut squash – 1 medium, about 3 lbs, peeled, deseeded, and cut into cubes
Carrots – 2, roughly chopped
Apple – 1, deseeded and roughly chopped
White onion – ½, about ½ cup, chopped
Garlic – 2 cloves, chopped
Fresh sage – 1 sprig (optional)
Ground cinnamon – ½ teaspoon
Ground nutmeg – ¼ teaspoon
Vegetable broth – 2.5 cups
Heavy cream- ¼ cup (optional)
Salt and fresh ground black pepper – to taste
Put everything except the heavy cream in your slow cooker and cook, covered, for 6 hours on low or 4 hours on high, or until the squash is fork-tender. At this point, turn the slow cooker to warm, discard the sage and stir in heavy cream.
With your hand blender, puree the soup until smooth (or you can transfer the soup in to a blender and very carefully puree it. You might have to do this in batches). Check and adjust seasoning. Serve warm drizzled with heavy cream. It goes great with broccoli cheddar corn bread (recipe here). Enjoy!
Love – Vaishali
Make it dairy free (and vegan) by substituting coconut milk for heavy cream.
Slow Cooker/ Crockpot
Knife, peeler and chopping board
Measuring cups and spoons