Things are CRAZY at our house this time of year, especially since our Christmas guests are going to start arriving on the 17th--5 days! And with this being Joe's first Christmas, I want to make sure we (meaning me) have plenty of time to soak up the family time and not worry about cooking or chores. I'm splurging to have my house professionally cleaned and I'm stocking the freezer with lots of homemade soups for lunches.
Today I'm cooking up a beef & barley vegetable soup in the crockpot. It's fairly self-explanatory: beef, barley, carrots, green beans, onions, garlic, and whatever spices and herbs I have handy.
On the stove I have a new favorite cooking: butternut squash w/bacon soup. This soup proves the rule that you can add bacon to anything and my husband will eat it. But despite the tasty baconness, it's also low-calorie and nutritious. I can't find the original recipe I used, so I'll reproduce here.
Use 2 large halved butternut squashes with the pulp and seeds removed. Cook covered in the microwave in an inch of water for 15 minutes, until soft.
Meanwhile, cook 6-8 slices of bacon in a large pot and remove. Set aside for later. In the bacon grease, saute an onion and 3 cloves of garlic. Scoop out squash flesh and add to pot. Add enough water (or chicken stock, but this adds sodium and calories) to cover and let simmer until the flavors are blended. I usually take a potato masher to this to help integrate the flavors and break down the squash, but you can skip that.
Pour the soup into a large blender and pulse until smooth. If you will be freezing the soup, add the bacon back in so this gets chopped up into the soup. If serving immediately, then just crush the bacon on top of the soup.
This soup freezes so well and is very hearty. You can add things like cream or other seasonings to it when served, but I keep it simple to keep it diet-friendly. Yes, it's hard to imagine anything cooked in bacon grease as diet-friendly, but this is only 77 calories per 1-cup serving. Can't beat that!
Okay, back to the kitchen I go. Besides baking for gifts, I still need to stuff some peppers for the freezer and I'm running out of thyme!
Get it? Just a little kitchen dork humor for you.