I woke up this morning to the sweet sound of rain falling outside. Hmmm, I thought, the perfect day for making soup! Butternut, my favorite squash, is plentiful, sweet, and easy to cook. Here's a lovely, filling soup, delicious with a grilled cheese sandwich and a green salad. Pureeing the soup means you don't have to be fussy with dicing the vegetables. Just get them roughly the same size.
Butternut Squash and Pear Soup
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving1 medium yellow onion, diced large1 small butternut squash (about 2 pounds), peeled, seeded, and diced into 1 - 2 inch squares*2 pears, peeled and diced to 1 inch squares1 pear, peeled, cut in half, core removedSalt and pepper, to tasteA pinch each of cayenne and cumin1/4 cup low-fat plain yogurt
In a medium pot, heat oil over medium-high. Add onion and cook until translucent, 6 minutes. Add squash, diced pear, halved pear, and 4 cups water; season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil; reduce to a rapid simmer and cook until squash is soft, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the whole pear from the pot and dice it.In batches, fill a blender halfway with soup and yogurt. Puree in batches. Caution: don’t use the blender top while pureeing hot liquids. Instead, drape a clean cloth over the top while pureeing the vegetables with the yogurt. Season with salt and pepper, cayenne and cumin. Serve topped with the reserved diced pear.
*If you have a microwave, use it to make peeling the butternut squash easier. Microwave the whole squash for one minute at a time. Between 1 and 3 minutes, you'll find the peel beginning to cook and much easier to separate from the flesh. Be careful -- it will be hot. Let it cool a little first. -- JuJu Harris
I got up this morning, knowing that it was gonna be another humid scorcher. I gave myself thumbs up to making an easy dinner so I'd be out of the kitchen and free to goof off around the house as much as possible. Out came the can opener, knife, cutting board and a few ingredients, and in 10 minutes I was checking my Facebook while eating a bowl of granola, yogurt and peaches. Dinner was in the fridge, ready for the hungry hoard to descend upon it later, and I was ready for a day of puttering. This recipe is a great picnic or potluck dish, and gets even better as it sits. Be sure to use fresh basil. Serve with mozarella cheese slices and ciabatta. -- JuJu Harris
Black Bean, Corn and Red Onion Salad
4 cups cooked black beans, rinsed and drained2 cups cooked corn, rinsed and drained (fresh or canned)1 red onion, finely chopped3 large tomatoes, diced or 2 cups whole cherry tomatoes1 cup basil leaves, rinsed and coarsely choppedsalt and pepper, to taste¼ fresh or pickled jalapeno, finely minced½ cup olive or canola oil¼ - ½ cup balsamic or rice vinegar
Gently stir all ingredients in a serving bowl. Chill or serve at room temperature. Serves 8-12.