Tuesday, June 9, 2015

butternut squash soup with meatballs, roasted pumpkin seeds, and cotija cheese

the title is a mouthful, but i can never get enough of this soup...in my mouth. i've been making it without the meatballs for three or four years now. it started as a GAPS diet experiment but then i found a kitchenaid immersion blender at the thrift store for $6 (yeah!) and it became a regular on our menu. the first time i added the meatballs, roasted pumpkin seeds, and cotija cheese...[moment of silence]...it was heavenly. the pumpkin seeds and cotija cheese have been part of my roasted butternut squash for a couple years, replicating an appetizer andy and i had at the purple pig in chicago, but until one blustery winter evening i had never thought of marrying the two. this soup was already high on our favorite list before i went to iowa last christmas and made it for my extended family. unfortunately, a freak snowstorm whipped up late in the afternoon that sent everyone scurrying home before i was finished making dinner, but in the end that made more leftovers for me so, sorry-not-sorry. ;)

sometimes when butternut squash is in season i bake a couple extras, scoop the flesh into bags, and freeze it for a day in april, may, even july, when i NEED this soup. if you can't do dairy, just leave out the cotija cheese. coconut cream is used instead of half-and-half or heavy cream (which is what i used in our pre-primal/paleo days), so that would be your only substitution.

butternut squash soup with meatballs, roasted pumpkin seeds, and cotija cheese

early in the day (or at least two hours before you want to make your soup), preheat oven to 400. i roast my butternut squash whole. put two small or one large squash on a baking pan and poke holes with a skewer. i poke 5-7 down the center and then make two staggered lines of holes on either side, staying above the halfway point on the side of the squash so they don't leak juice all over the pan. roast for 60 minutes. turn off the oven and leave the squash in for another hour (i want them soft and easy to scoop). remove from oven and allow to cool. cut in half, scoop out seeds+slime, and spoon the flesh onto the pan or into a bowl (or straight into your soup pot if you're at that point in the process).

1 lb grass-fed beef
1 lb nitrate/nitrite free sausage
2 eggs
1 onion, diced
1/4 C coconut flour
1/2 t basil
salt and pepper

mix together all ingredients by hand and form into meatballs (i use a cookie scoop so they're all the same size). place close together in a 9x13 pan and bake at 375 for 20 minutes. turn all meatballs over and bake for 10 minutes more. check for doneness and allow to rest.

1 T butter or coconut oil
1 onion, diced
3-4 apples,  diced (granny smith preferred, but i have used galas and fujis if i have a soft one on the counter)

saute onion and apples in butter/oil 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently. add:

4-8 C chicken stock (depends on the size of your squash. also, i always make my own bone broths, but that's another recipe for another post)
1-2 cans coconut cream (again, depends on the size of your squash)
flesh of the previously baked butternut squash
1 t curry powder
1 t ground coriander
1/2 t nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste

blend with an immersion blender until very smooth (add more stock, if needed...it should be smooth, not super thick but not too thin) then bring to a boil. you can do this in a normal blender, but be careful of the pressure the heat will create (can you say "soup on the ceiling" or "i scalded my hand"?). adjust salt and pepper.

roasted pumpkin seeds
1 1/2 - 2 T butter or coconut oil
3/4 C raw pepitas/pumpkin seeds

warm a pan over medium heat. melt the butter/oil and add the pumpkin seeds. stir frequently until they begin to brown and pop.

to serve, ladle the soup into a bowl. place 3 meatballs in the center, sprinkle pumpkin seeds, and grate or break pieces of cotija cheese around the top. leftovers can be refrigerated for a week or frozen if you find you have too much (i know, i know...my recipes are typically huge). my family usually polishes off this meal within a couple days.

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