I haven’t made soup since college, when I attempted a turkey meatball and noodle 30-minute meal. It sat in my refrigerator in a giant vat sporting no less than 20 servings. Needless to say, I made it through about four bowls before I wanted to toss it over the side of my balcony in a gesture far too dramatic for a Rachel Ray recipe. I’m now a vegetarian. Coincidence? Maybe, but it still made me shy away from delicious homemade soup for about three years.
Then, without a warning, I started craving butternut squash soup the other day. Fuuuck, what to do? I couldn’t allow myself to rule out yet another food group as a result of ill planning, because that would really polarize me at dinner parties. Instead, I decided to man up and give soup another go.
After quickly browsing some recipes online, I chose to loosely follow this one due to its simple-mindedness. It’s like an unassuming Ned Flanders of a dish. Who could resist?
I melted two tablespoons of butter, and then added about 1/4 of a massive Spanish onion to the mix. Once the onion turned translucent, I added a pound of cubed butternut squash, two carrots chopped and peeled, and four cups of vegetable stock. I seasoned with about a teaspoon each of cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. I then covered the pot and simmered for about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, I made a panini (all the better to dunk with, my dear) as such: I drizzled both halves of ciabatta bread with olive oil, and pressed them both for 3 to 4 minutes. Then, I spread one half with Taleggio cheese and a handful of arugula. I chopped the other 1/4 of my Spanish onion, and then sauteed it in olive oil on the stove top. Once the onions had caramelized, I spread about half of the mixture on the top of my ciabatta. I added salt and pepper, and then smushed the sandwich together. The entire thing went into the panini press for 5 minutes.
I removed the solids from my soup, and then pureed them with a hand-held mixer until they looked like this:
Finally, I stirred the pureed soup back into the broth, and simmered for a few more minutes. I tossed in a few dashes of cayenne pepper for a kick, and then ladled into a bowl. I added a dollop of Taleggio cheese on top, and then violated that soup with my pressed panini. The soup was really flavorful and so tasty, although in my haste to eat (it was 10:30 p.m. by then), I neglected a few wayward carrot and squash chunks. The cayenne pepper was a great addition, though. And as for the panini? It may have upstaged grilled cheese for LIFE.