Friday, November 1, 2013

Butternut Squash Soup with Fig Goat Cheese & Spinach Grilled Cheese

The end of October means being fully surrounded by gorgeous fall vegetables... and that cool crisp in the morning air just makes me want to break out the soup recipes.  Fall is one of my favorite seasons, after moving to Los Angeles from Pittsburgh I felt like I lost that change of seasons, but the longer I live here I notice the changes more and more.  (Could be the cold weather wimp I have become!) None the less, its California beauty with a little tamer of a change.  As I went the the market to get my ingredients to match the butternut squash sitting at home on my table...I found myself picking up everything fall....bring on the endless Pumpkin flavors and Apple Cider.  Luckily I managed to control myself and exit Whole Foods with only the cider and an addition to my squash collection for the week...  

Butternut Squash Soup is one of the simplest recipes and makes delish leftovers for the next couple days.  This time, I decided to add a sweet/savory grilled cheese to complement our afternoon lunch. Just enough time to prep and cook while my soup simmered on the stove. 

Butternut Squash Soup
(Serves 6)
2 lb. Butternut Squash
2 T. Olive Oil
2 Cloves Garlic
1/2 White Onion
1 T. Fresh Sage
1/2 T. Fresh Thyme
1/2 T. Ground Cumin
4 c. Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
3 T. Halt & Half

Peel the Butternut Squash and chop into cubes.  I like to use a vegetable peeler like OXO Swivel Peeler, its super sharp and takes the tough skin off easily.

Chop your Onion and Garlic, and mince your fresh spices.

Heat a 5 Qt or larger pot on the stove and add the Olive Oil, Garlic and Onion.  Saute until Onion becomes translucent.  Add the Cubed Squash, Sage & Thyme, immediately pour in the broth.

Stir the pot and put on the lid.  Bring to a boil.  Once its boiling, turn down the heat and simmer on medium heat for 20-25 minutes until the Squash is tender. 

Remove the pot from heat and blend with an immersion blender.  You can also work in small batches using a food processor to blend into a smooth soup.  Lastly, add the 3 T. Half & Half and stir to blend.

What you end up with is a silky smooth yet light soup.  The perfect amount of warm for a fall afternoon.

Now onto the (slightly) guilty part....

Fig Goat Cheese & Spinach Grilled Cheese
(Serves 2)
4 Slices Whole Wheat Bread
3 T. Fig Butter
2 T. Butter
1 c. Fresh Spinach
4 oz. Crumbled Goat Cheese

Place the 4 slices on a flat surface like a cutting board or the counter.  Smooth 1 1/2 T. Fig Butter on the inside of 2 of the slices.  At the same time, flip over the other side of your sandwich and butter that side.  (This side will go face down in the pan)


Now start to build by layering the fresh spinach on top of the Fig Butter.

Heat a skillet on medium heat on the stove, and place the butter side down in the pan.  Take the Goat Cheese and crumble on top of the bread.  The heat will help the cheese to stick to the bread. Do this carefully since the pan is hot... if you are using slices of Goat Cheese instead you can spread evenly over the bread. 

Once you have finished placing the cheese, you are going to place the 2nd slice of bread with the Fig Butter and Spinach on top of it.  Carefully place it on top of the Goat Cheese covered slice.  Butter your top slice slightly so that you will be able to flip it, butter side down.

Each side should cook for about 1 1/2 minutes, or until your bread is golden and toasted.  Remove from the pan and immediately cut and enjoy with your Butternut Squash soup. 

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