Long-time readers already know that once upon a time I built an airplane. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life: starting with a pile of aluminum and using my own hands to turn it into a living, breathing flying machine.
One of the things I learned early in that experience was the value of good tools. It's your hobby. It is supposed to bring you pleasure. Struggling with an inadequate tool and producing an inferior result detracts from that pleasure. So I buy good tools not because I need them, but because they make the activity much more pleasurable.
Today I'm not building an airplane. Instead I'm in the kitchen. Instead of cutting and shaping 6061T6 aircraft aluminum, I'm dicing onions and roasting squash. That same old feeling is there: Using my hands, a little skill, and high-quality tools to turn a pile of raw materials into a finished product I will be proud of. I'm dicing an onion with nary a tear because I've learned the technique and have a high-quality very sharp knife.
And so that brings me once again to my Vita-Mix Professional Series 5000 blender. I certainly didn't need this blender, but it purees the roasted butternut squash soup so well that i don't need a strainer. It just does what I ask of it with no coaxing or complaining or coddling. It just works. Using it brings me pleasure. It helps too that it came with an inch-and-a-half think book of recipes - I can see lots of good wholesome soups and smoothees in my future.
This soup is straight from that same Vita-Mix cookbook.
Roasted Butternut Squash
2 butternut squash, about 4 pounds total
3 tablespoons butter
2 slices bacon, diced
1 onion, diced
6 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
large pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup orange juice
Preheat oven to 375F. Halve the squash and place cut side down on an oiled baking sheet. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until the squash can be easily pierced with a knife. Remove from the oven and let coo 20 minutes. with a spoon, remove seeds, scrape the pulp and reserve. DIscard peel.
In a large stock pot, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Add the bacon and onions. Cook until the onions are soft. Add the squash and the stock. Simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for 20 minutes.
Place 1/4 of the mixture in blender and puree on high (If you have a Vita-Mix, start on Variable 1, quickly rotate the knob to 10, then switch to high). Puree for 2-3 minutes. Strain into a large bowl. Repeat with the remaining.
Add the cream, orange juice, and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Mash up 2-3 tablespoons of butter, 2 tablespoons of finely-chopped pecans, and a couple tablespoons of honey. Roll it into a log and wrap it with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge to harden. When it's serving time, slice off a quarter-inch thick slice from the log and place it in the middle of the bowl. It adds a nice flavorful surprise to an already yummy soup.