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Yields 6 to 7 cups. Serves 6 to 8 people and if being used as an appetizer or first course, simply serve smaller portions to accommodate more people.
2 T olive oil
1 ½ lbs butternut squash. About 5 C peeled and seeded, cut into 1 inch chunks.
1 large onion, cut into large dice
1 T butter
1 large pinch sugar
3 large garlic cloves, thickly sliced
3 C chicken stock or broth, homemade or from a carton
1 to 1 ½ cups half-and-half
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Garnish: sour cream, pomegranate seeds and pumpkin seeds (pepitas) and/or a sprinkle of fresh herbs such as parsley.
Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large, deep sauté pan until shimmering.
Add squash, then onion. Sauté, stirring very little at first, then more frequently, until veggies start to turn golden brown, approximately 7 to 8 minutes.
Reduce heat to low and add butter, sugar and garlic. Continue cooking until all veggies are a rich spotty caramel color, about 10 minutes longer.
Add spices. Continue to sauté until fragrant, approximately another 30 to 60 seconds.
Add broth and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered, until veggies are tender, about 10 minutes.
Using an immersion blender (easiest) or a traditional blender, puree until very smooth, about 1 minute. An immersion blender can be used in the deep sauté pan or if you prefer, transfer soup to a soup pot and complete this process there.
Note: If using a traditional blender, blend no more than two cups at one time. Vent the blender either by removing the lid’s pop-out center or by lifting one edge of the lid. Drape the blender canister with a kitchen towel while blending to avoid any potential mess. To “clean” the canister, pour in a little half-and-half, blend briefly, then add to the soup.
Return soup to sauté pan or soup pot. Add enough half-and-half so the mixture is soup-like, yet thick enough to float garnish. Taste. Add salt and pepper if needed.
Heat through on a low to medium heat. Do not bring to a boil! Ladle into bowls. For a more casual atmosphere, mugs work very nicely. Garnish and serve.
Meatloaf (served with Brown Gravy, Mashed Potatoes and Peas)
Approximately 10 servings
4 lbs lean ground beef (we recommend good quality ground round)
2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (about 4 slices of good quality white bread lightly toasted and made into crumbs)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 large or 1 medium onion, minced
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 T Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Place meat mixture in a 9 X 13 baking pan (we use a metal lasagna pan) and form into a large oval shape in center of pan, kind of resembling a loaf of rye bread. There should be several inches between the edge of the meatloaf and the pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 2 hours.
About 40 minutes before meatloaf finishes baking, start boiling your peeled, cubed potatoes. When cooked, pour off water and mash with butter, cream, salt and pepper to taste. About 15 minutes before meatloaf comes out of the oven, steam some green peas – frozen are fine! Add a little butter to them after steaming.
When meatloaf is done, remove from pan, place on platter and cover with foil to keep warm. Remove excess fat from pan and put metal baking pan directly on cooktop. Using spatula, scrape all the browned gooey pieces from the bottom of the pan and add beef stock (about 3 cups). While stirring, add 2 beef bouillon cubes until dissolved, then add some garlic powder, a few dashes of Worcestershire, salt and pepper until seasoned to your liking. In a shaker bottle with a top (a Good Seasons salad bottle with lid is perfect for this!), put a few spoonfuls white flour and add about 1/4-1/3 cup beef stock from the container, NOT the pan. Note: To avoid lumps when making gravy, you must mix cool or cold liquid with flour! Shake bottle until flour is completely dissolved and there are NO lumps. Bring the drippings and stock in the pan to a boil. Slowly pour the flour mixture into the center of the boiling stock while using a sauce whisk to quickly incorporate the flour into the bubbling stock and thicken to make gravy. If gravy isn’t thick enough, make more flour/stock mixture and gradually add until gravy is thick enough. Just remember if you add more liquid, you need to add a little more seasonings or your gravy will be bland. Sample the gravy and adjust seasonings according to personal taste.
Slice meatloaf to desired thickness. We like to slice ours about 1 inch thick and then cut each slice in half. Serve with a generous helping of mashed potatoes, peas and gravy.