Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Please, God, Let Me Live

I got back to the United Kingdom this morning after flying via O'Hare. It was my first visit to that infamous airport and I'm delighted that it was uneventful--even if my flight from Boston landed when the one to Chicago started boarding, which is not soothing to the nerves.

You know what else tears my nerves, those fragile, fragile things, to pieces? Unexpected loud noises. Alert readers will realise that today is Guy Fawkes Day. For the past month, my local grocery store has had a MASSIVE display of fireworks right by the entrance. The racket started as soon as it got dark and it doesn't look like it'll let up for the next six hours. Meanwhile, I am so tired the world is gently bobbing up and down; I ate dinner (recipe to be posted soon; it makes a lot, tastes fantastic, and freezes) for dinner and jumped out of my chair when I thought someone had set my house on fire. I calmed down once I saw that the flickering light was just the neighbours parading around with sparklers but the whee of some fireworks and the bang of others are ongoing.

Hence, soup. When I first lived in England as a clueless twenty-year-old, I made a lot of soup. In part, this was because I lived in a shared flat with limited kitchen equipment and in part because I was living in one of my two beloved Expensive Towns. Behold, it was beautiful there:

Vegetables were cheap; meat wasn't, and soup lasts for the better part of a week. My sister sent me this recipe in one of her letters. It is good and soothes all manner of terrors.

Apple and Butternut Squash Soup
(adapted from Heartland by Marcia Adams)

Note: I'm going by my hazy memory of the last time I made this; adjust the spices to your own taste. 'Mixed spice' is a UK blend which includes cinnamon, cardamon, and a bunch of other good things--I used it because I don't have the ground cardamon the original recipe requires.

Further Note: England does not have nonalcoholic pressed cider as it is made in New England. Cloudy apple juice is the next best thing.

1 large butternut squash
1/4c vegetable oil
1 large onion
2 medium apples
3/4tsp curry powder
3/4tsp nutmeg
1/2tsp mixed spice
1c cloudy apple juice
1 cube vegetable boullion + 4c water
1/2c milk
1/2tsp salt
1/2tsp pepper

Turn your oven on to 200C. Cleave the squash in twain and scoop out the seeds. Put it on a baking tray and roast for forty-five minutes to an hour, while you do other things. For me this other thing was making dinner; I roasted the squash the day before I planned to make soup. You do whatever makes you happy. (This step saves you having to cut up and peel a butternut squash.)

Heat the oil in large soup pot. Chop the onion and add it, frying until soft. While that's happening, peel and cut up the apples.You will need to pause to stir the onions once or twice. Add the apples to the pot and stir a bit. When the onion and apples are soft, scoop the squash out of its skin, and dump it in. Stir it so that everything is coated with oil.

Add all the spices and stir to incorporate. Then pour in the apple juice and let it cook for a few minutes. Chuck in your boullion cube and your water. Simmer the soup for about half an hour, until apple and onion are tender.

Let the soup cool a bit and then blend with an immersion blender. Stir in the milk, salt, and pepper.

Makes 5-6 servings. Freezes well.

(Title of this post taken from Sherlock.)

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