Friday, October 29, 2010

Butternut Soup for the Soul

It's been a rough couple of weeks here at Chez Fed Family. Early in the month I went away for the weekend with some girlfriends. Just before we planned to go on Friday, one of the friends let me know that her first grader's school nurse had called: Hunter had thrown up at school. She picked him up and brought him home, then he threw up again. The good news, she heard, was that it really only lasted 6-8 hours. An hour later, the school bus dropped my kids off at home and Brooks took a hot bath and went to bed, saying his stomach hurt.

"I'm sorry to hear that," I said, overnight bag in hand. "Well, I'm off." And, over my shoulder as I walked away, "The good news is, I hear it only lasts 6-8 hours."

It turns out that he was queasy all weekend, and Ava started throwing up that night.

I'll not share every little Jot and Tittle, but by the end of the next eight days, all three kids had thrown up and missed the toilet. Now this house was once somewhat grand, in a 1970's kind of way, and before our family darkened the door, it had never, ever had children living in it. There is carpet (and, weirdly, chandeliers) in all the bathrooms. Cleaning up this type of mess was complicated, gross and pretty defeating.

(You know... and skip this if you're queasy... I noticed that the kids all had different strategies when reaching the crisis point of their nausea. Sophia left a trail from her bed to the toilet. Brooks tried to keep the mess in one spot and crouched there, heaving for a full five minutes. And Ava... well it looked like someone had cut an air hose going full blast. It was on the walls, the cabinet, the trash can, the door.)

My sainted husband cleaned it all up. Not because it makes me gaggy to do it, but because I seem to be completely ineffective at it. I think I could scrub and scrub all day and wouldn't improve the situation by 50%. I looked at Ava's mess and thought, "Well. Now we have to move." Michael got it looking like new, but in my mind, it will forever be Barf Carpet.

No sooner did the kids get better than Mike and I went down hard, though, gratefully, not with the stomach bug. Sinuses. Bronchial stuff. I'm still coughing.

Anyway, once we started wanting something more than 7-Up and crackers, a creamy, comforting soup sounded good to me. I came up with this recipe last year after visiting a great Bento Box restaurant. I had a lovely butternut squash soup with my lunch that day and I thought about it all winter, wondering what I could do to recreate it.

After looking up some recipes online, I decided on this:

DB's Butternut Squash Soup (And I'll be really sad if you can't try this soup because you now associate with our disease and pestilence.)

1 butternut squash
chicken broth
cream cheese

I grew my own butternuts this summer for the sole purpose of making this soup. If you must, go to the market and buy one. Now, I peel and cube the squash. This takes a hearty knife and a fair amount of fortitude. Someone smart told me that I should just stab the squash several times and put it in the microwave until it's soft enough to halve and scoop out of its sturdy skin. I like this idea, but I prefer the process of letting the cubed, peeled squash cook in the flavorful chicken broth. Do whatever your prefer.

I put the squash in a good-sized saucepan and cover with chicken broth. I often don't have chicken stock on hand. Sometimes I use water with chicken bouillon instead, which is good for adding some saltiness. I also add maybe 3/4 t. marjoram. In this, I cook the squash until tender.

Then, quick as you please, I run the whole thing through a blender, adding some chunks of cream cheese as I go, which melts and blends divinely. Experiment as you go. You may not want all the broth if it's getting too runny. You may want more or less cream cheese. You may need to add salt. When it's as you like it, garnish with bacon crumbles, chiles, black olives, chives... whatever pleases you.

On this day, we ate ours with fresh bread.


  1. What an epic illness! I was laughing. Glad you're feeling betterish.

    I adore butternut soup - never thought of adding cream cheese, but as I have some in my fridge right now, I might be making this.

  2. I'm fascinated by your built-in blender.

    On another note..sorry that the sickness lasted so long in your household. That just stinks. Literally, right? :)

    I would love this soup. Can't wait to try it.

  3. PS - I'm thrilled that I have a cameo appearance in your blog.

  4. @Margo - It IS funny, I know.

    @Carmen - Tee Hee. Sherlin was at our house one New Year's Eve and Janelle used that blender to make a daquari. He said, "What? I built in? What are you guys, the Jetsons?"


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