She's gone. There are pockets of blinding sunshine peeking through the last hours of Hurricane Sandy's thick rain bands. We are no longer hunkering down in the soft leather of our couch, praying our windows will be able to sustain the whirling, deafening winds. The morning light revealed that we are safe, our windows held tight, and we have a highly coveted commodity in our region - power.
As we wait for the damage to be fully recognized and for our days to return to their normal, hectic pace, now is the time for comfort and thankfulness. It is the time to check on our family, friends, and neighbors. It is the time to lend a helping hand or warm meal to those who need it most.
ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP WITH CINNAMON CREMA
adapted from Gail Simmons
2 1/2 pounds peeled and cubed butternut squash
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 stems fresh thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
4-6 turns freshly ground black pepper
1 cinnamon stick
1 quart chicken stock
FOR CINNAMON CREMA:
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2-3 turns freshly ground black pepper
Set a large heavy based pot or dutch oven over medium heat and add oil, thyme, and cinnamon stick. As the oil heats up the cinnamon stick will unfurl and infuse the oil.
Add onion and squash to the pot and sauté until you have a little caramelization on the squash, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Pour in chicken stock, bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes until squash is very tender. Discard cinnamon stick and thyme stems then puree with in a blender (use an immersion blender if you have one). Give it a final taste and season once more with salt and pepper to taste.
Meanwhile, in a small mixing bowl combine sour cream, honey, cinnamon and black pepper. Stir well with a whisk. Serve soup in shallow bowls with a spoonful of crema swirled into each. Garnish with fresh thyme buds.