Lately, I’ve been feeling like I don’t have enough hours in the day. This is partially because of my Smash duties, some extra writing gigs, and devoting time to a few other fun projects I have in the pipeline, but it’s primarily due to the fact that I have so much TV to watch.
I realize I’ve never really mentioned it before, but I love television. I grew up in a family of TV aficionados, and my appreciation for the small screen blossomed at a very young age. In retrospect, I’m pretty sure it positively impacted my development, as my parents’ “no TV until homework is done” rule encouraged high levels of academic efficiency. There was a lot of studying to do, and extreme focus/productivity was the only way to make sure I didn’t miss Dawson’s Creek. (REMEMBER WHEN THERE WAS NO DVR??!)
Now, I know not everyone reading this is a television fan, and I respect that. To each his own. However, it really irks me when people make blanket statements condemning television as “destructive,” “mindless,” and “a waste of time.” I’ve learned all kinds of things from watching TV. For starters, Food Network arguably ignited my passion for cooking, I’m an excellent self-diagnostician thanks to House and Grey’s Anatomy, The League taught me what little I know about football, and shows like Scandal and The Good Wife have given me an appreciation for red wine and power suits, while fostering healthy government skepticism. Don’t even get me started on the knowledge I’ve gleaned from Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers and 60 Minutes.
(I also read books and enjoy NPR, so chillax with the judgment, people.)
Anyhoo, fall signifies the return of my many beloved shows, and I’ve been stressed about how I’m going to work them into my increasingly busy and important schedule. I already use bath time, meal prep, the occasional lunch break, and weekends to chip away at my DVR, but sadly, I don’t think that’s going to cut it anymore. If I have any hope of keeping up with this season’s programming, my roommate and I are going to have to embrace the occasional TV dinner…
If you thought I was referring to a pre-packaged frozen meal, you must be new here. (Welcome!!) By “TV dinner,” I obviously mean a simple (yet fabulous) meal that requires as little effort as humanly possible. Bonus points if it can be made in advance, re-heated quickly, and comfortably consumed while sitting cross-legged in a pajama set. Chili fits the bill, as do quinoa bakes and grilled cheese, but right now I’m feeling this Butternut Squash Soup with Roasted Garlic, Goat Cheese and Pepitas for cozy nights on the couch with my favorite fictional characters.
I’m fully aware that this is the second recipe this week involving butternut squash, sage and goat cheese. Am I embarrassed? Yes, duh. Such overlap exposes my poor planning skills and butternut squash fetish, both of which I try to keep on the DL. That said, I’m not going to apologize for sharing this soup today because a.) it is dank, b.) I have made at least five recipes involving butternut squash, sage and goat cheese recently, and I’ve only shared two (superhuman restraint), and c.) it’s fall, dammit!
So please forgive my blogging faux pas, and let’s talk badass butternut squash soup, shall we?
This autumnal pot of gold is far superior to your average semi-sweet butternut squash blandness, friends. You’ve got the usual soup suspects in the form of carrot, celery, and onion, but then there’s a hint of paprika smokiness, warmth from cinnamon and cayenne, and the soft sweetness of roasted garlic and fresh sage. Pepitas (aka pumpkin seeds) provide nutty depth and an awesome crunch factor, and tangy goat cheese rounds out the flavor party. It’s got dimension, and subtlety, and sass.
I’m also pleased to report that the goodness on your screen requires less than zero culinary skill, and if you buy pre-cubed butternut squash (do it), there’s minimal prep work. The most time consuming aspect of the recipe is actually roasting the garlic, and even that only requires about 60 seconds of real “work.” Once the garlic’s in the oven, you can pour a glass of wine, throw the rest of the ingredients in a pot to simmer, and knock a full episode off your DVR (or listen to NPR or whatever). Booyakasha.
As a little added incentive to make this soup, I’d like to briefly discuss the glorious nutritional benefits of butternut squash. This wondrous, heart-healthy fruit is low in fat and ridiculously high in fiber, folate, and potassium. It’s known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which boost your immune system, regulate blood sugar, and prevent various forms of cancer, and studies show that it can even improve your complexion (something we should all capitalize on during these pasty, static-haired months). This soup also happens to be gluten-free, vegan and paleo (if you ditch the cheese), and 100% Dude Diet approved!
Have I justified Domesticate ME!’s “Butternut Squash Week” yet?
A big bowl of this deliciousness with some crusty bread is my ideal TV dinner, but feel free to dress the soup up or down for a variety of occasions. It makes an incredibly impressive appetizer for fall entertaining, and you better believe it’s the sassiest of desk lunches. If, like Logan, you require meat at every meal, throw some chicken sausage in your bowl, or get super weird with this candied bacon. Hell, make these quesadillas and then dunk them in the soup if you want. You can never have too much butternut squash or goat cheese, right? (Maybe?)
Blogger’s Note: In case you were dying to know, I currently watch the following shows: The Good Wife, Homeland, The League, The Mindy Project, Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, Law and Order: SVU, Nashville, Parenthood, Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How To Get Away With Murder. If you’d like to discuss plot lines/predictions, character development, wardrobe, etc. for any of these shows, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I have a lot of deep thoughts.
Butternut Squash Soup with Roasted Garlic, Goat Cheese and Pepitas: (Serves 4)
1 head garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
1 pinch cayenne pepper
4 cups cubed butternut squash
2 teaspoons fresh chopped sage
3 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
Fresh ground pepper
1/3 cup pepitas (aka pumpkin seeds), toasted
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
Fresh sage for garnish (optional)
Preparing your Butternut Squash Soup with Roasted Garlic, Goat Cheese and Pepitas:
-Start by roasting your garlic. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Using a sharp knife, slice about ½-inch off the top of the head of garlic, so that all of the cloves are exposed. Remove any excess papery skin from the garlic, and place the head on a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Drizzle the exposed cloves with a tablespoon of olive oil. Wrap the foil around the garlic so that the entire head is loosely enclosed in a sealed packet. Transfer the garlic to the oven and roast for 45 minutes until the cloves are very soft. (For step-by-step photos of this process, see here.)
-While your garlic is roasting, get going on the soup. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a Dutch oven or large saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add the onion, carrot, and celery and cook for about 5 minutes until the vegetables have softened and the onions are translucent.
-Add the butternut squash and sage and cook for 1 minute more. (The sage will smell badass.) Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook for 25-30 minutes until the squash is very tender.
-Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves from their skins into the soup and simmer for another 5 minutes.
-If you have an immersion blender, please use it to purée the soup. If you don’t have an immersion blender, no biggie. Just transfer the soup to a blender/food processor and purée until smooth. Return soup to the pot and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- 1 head garlic
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 1 medium carrot, diced
- 1 celery stalk, diced
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
- 4 cups cubed butternut squash
- 2 teaspoons fresh chopped sage
- 3 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
- Fresh ground pepper
- 1/3 cup pepitas (aka pumpkin seeds), toasted
- 4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
- Fresh sage for garnish (optional)
- Start by roasting your garlic. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Using a sharp knife, slice about ½-inch off the top of the head of garlic, so that all of the cloves are exposed. Remove any excess papery skin from the garlic, and place the head on a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Drizzle the exposed cloves with a tablespoon of olive oil. Wrap the foil around the garlic so that the entire head is loosely enclosed in a sealed packet. Transfer the garlic to the oven and roast for 45 minutes until the cloves are very soft.
- While your garlic is roasting, get going on the soup. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a Dutch oven or large saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add the onion, carrot, and celery and cook for about 5 minutes until the vegetables have softened and the onions are translucent. Add the cinnamon, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper and cook for 1 minute. Add the butternut squash and sage and cook for 1 minute more. (The sage will smell badass.) Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook for 25-30 minutes until the squash is very tender.
- Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves from their skins into the soup and simmer for another 5 minutes.
- Purée the soup using an immersion blender/regular blender/food processor. Return soup to the saucepan and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Heat a small pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the pepitas and toast, for 2-3 minutes, shaking the pan regularly, until lightly browned and fragrant.
- Ladle warm soup into bowls and top with toasted pepitas and crumbled goat cheese. Serve immediately.
I’m thrilled to be a part of Food Network’s Fall Fest this week. For more awesome recipes with roasted garlic, check out the blogs below.
The Lemon Bowl: Crispy Garlic Baked Chicken Breasts
Jeanette’s Healthy Living: Roasted Garlic Tomato Pasta Sauce
Big Girls, Small Kitchen: Baking Sheet Spaghetti with Roasted Garlic, Peppers & Eggplant
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Red Swiss Chard with Roasted Garlic & Balsamic
Red or Green: Pasta Puttanesca with Roasted Garlic
Taste with the Eyes: Crusted Ahi with Roasted Garlic Tahini
Dishing With Divya: Baked Salmon with Garlic and Herbs
Virtually Homemade: Roasted Broccoli and Garlic with Feta Cheese
The Cultural Dish: Roasted Garlic Infused Olive Oil
The Mom 100: Roasted Garlic and Tomato Bread
Devour: Roasted Garlic Recipes Worth Worshipping
FN Dish: 10 Excuses to Eat Roasted Garlic