Back In The Game – Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

I haven’t really been cooking anything NEW recently. I’ve been cooking a lot but really just the same ol’, same ol’. Like cauliflower purée for a party, or beef stew for dinner, or baked chicken with roasted veggies. Great food…just nothing new.

And then my amazing friend Wes gave me an instant pot. And I’m experimenting. Tonight I made butternut squash soup.

It’s been raining for days and more than half of our house is sick…what is better than a rich, satisfying, warm soup? 

I’m not going to into too many details about cooking with the instant pot but instead I’ll tell you the ingredients. 


  • 2 lbs peeled and cubes butternut squash
  • 2 gala apples cubed (peel on)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2″ of fresh ginger
  • 2 tsps of nutmeg
  • Zest and juice of one lemon
  • 1 sprig of sage
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 cups of chicken stock 
  • A few strips of thick cut back cut into one inch pieces or lardons if available
  • Handful of spinach per person

I sautéed in olive oil the onions with the sage, salt and pepper, and half of the ginger. When soft I added in the butternut squash and the apples, the nutmeg and the rest of the ginger and let that cook for a bit to brown. I then added the stock and mixed it all up before pressure cooking the soup for 10 minutes. Once releasing the steam, I put in the lemon zest and juice and puréed the mixture with my immersion blender. It tastes outstanding. But to make it more of a meal, I cooked some bacon to put on top after pouring the soup over the spinach. Majorly delish and so quick with the instant pot. 


Lincoln Park Salad with Shrimp

Last week M and I had an early dinner at a local restaurant (Lincoln Park) and I ordered a really fantastic salad. I wanted to recreate it and maybe add my own spin to the mix. Their salad was kale, butternut squash, blood oranges and beets in a cumin dressing.  It was perfect for that night but for me to feed our little family, it needed a bit more heft. So I made it as follows:

  • 2 bunches of kale
  • butternut squash
  • blood oranges
  • 1 can of sliced beets
  • 2 bags of frozen, cooked, tailless shrimp
  • 1 lime
  • 3 meyer lemons
  • cumin
  • mustard powder
  • 2 tbs unsalted, hulled sunflower seeds
  • Brianna’s French Vinaigrette

photo (45)

First things first, I turned the oven on to 425. Next step was to wash and tear the kale into small pieces in a large bowl. I then zested three meyer lemons with my microplane into a separate bowl and then juiced those lemons over the kale, making sure all of the kale had lemon juice on it. I then let it sit knowing I would come back to it in 20 minutes or so and massage the kale to make it less tough. The woman who had cut my hair less than an hour earlier had told me that this was the key to delicious kale.

Next I peeled and cut the butternut squash into 1 inch cubes and, onto a silpat covered cookie sheet, covered them in olive oil, salt, pepper, cumin and mustard powder. I mixed them all up together to make sure they were evenly coated and into the oven they went.

Onto the blood oranges! With a very sharp knife I cut off the ends and cut off the skin, revealing the ruby red interior. Once peeled, I turned the orange on its side and cut them into slices. If the orange had an extra white pith, I popped it out of the center. Setting those aside, I opened the can of beets, poured them into a strainer over the sink and rinsed them with cold water briefly. I then roughly chopped them into 1 inch chunks, setting them aside when finished.

After checking on the butternut squash, turning the pieces over, I went on to massage the kale. Get your hands in there and really rub on it. It will feel and look strange. Do it. It is worth it. I massaged my kale for about five minutes. As I was going through, I also pulled out and stocks that I may have missed when tearing it earlier. The pieces of kale should be bite sized.

I then added the orange and the beets to the kale, turning to the shrimp. In a saute pan, warm up a tiny bit of olive oil to coat the pan. Once hot, add in the frozen shrimp. Let it sit a second and mix up the shrimp, breaking up those pieces at that frozen together. Cover with a lid for a few minutes to encourage the defrost. Once the ice is melted, empty 3/4 of the liquid into the sink. Squeeze with lime, salt and pepper and cook until warmed through.

The squash should now be hot and cooked through. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Drain shrimp and add to kale. Pour in hot squash once cool enough to touch. Add seeds and dressing and toss.

This salad is GOOOOOOOD.