Butternut Squash and Stout Soup

Butternut Squash Soup with Stout

This past Friday night, Eric and I were lucky enough to be at Billy’s on Burnet for the Austin Beerworks Sputnik Cacao Russian Imperial Oatmeal Stout (whew!) cask tapping, along with our friends Kris and Julie. This stuff was excellent. Smooth, rich, dark, and a tad chocolatey. We regularly buy cans of Austin Beerworks’ wonderful Black Thunder and Peacemaker to drink poolside, so we relished the opportunity to try one of their winter brews, fresh from the cask.

That experience, plus the presence of a giant butternut squash and a few potatoes, inspired this filling, flavorful soup. We’re still getting tons of sage from our allotment garden, and I never tire of frying it in some butter or bacon fat and enjoying it on pasta or as a soup topping. Sage pairs beautifully with this soup, and complements the crunchy bacon perfectly. In fact, I’m having the leftovers for lunch, and I can’t wait!

1 large butternut squash, deseeded, peeled, and roughly cubed
3-4 medium waxy potatoes, washed and/or peeled, and roughly cubed
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 white onion, finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
~1 quart chicken (or vegetable) broth
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 pint stout (try Austin Beerworks Sputnik, if you can get it!)
~1/2 cup heavy cream
~1/3 cup bacon, pre-cooked and crumbled
handful fresh sage leaves

1. In a large stock pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and sauté for about five minutes, until fragrant and translucent. Add garlic and stir for another minute or two, then add squash and potatoes. Sauté for another five minutes or so, stirring frequently, then pour in chick broth (enough so that the vegetables are covered), and increase heat to high.

2. Bring broth to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook for at least thirty minutes, or until the squash are cooked through, soft, and easy breakable. Add more broth, or water, if the soup is too thick.

3. Once the vegetables are soft, pour the soup into a blender or large food processor and mix to desired texture. For this type of soup, I like to blend about 3/4 of the mixture, leaving the rest in the pot, so that the finished dish contains some nice chunky bits of potato and squash. If you want a smooth soup, just blend all of it; you may need to do it in two batches. After blending, return the soup to the pot, over low heat.

4. Add stout, stir, and cook for a further five minutes or so. Meanwhile, in a separate pan, warm bacon over medium heat. Add sage, stir in the resultant bacon grease, and cook until the herbs are slightly crispy. Remove from heat and set aside.

5. Add cream to soup and stir thoroughly. Allow the soup to continue to cook until very warm throughout. If your soup starts to bubble or boil, reduce heat.

6. Ladle soup into serving bowls and top with crumbled bacon and crispy sage. Serve immediately, preferably with additional stout!


Eric enjoyed his bowl with some leftover homemade bread.


*Reds or Yukonn golds are good. I left the skins on for this batch, for additional heft, texture, and nutritional value. Feel free to peel them if you prefer.


This Week’s Eats: 12/07/12

Chicken salad sandwich

Chicken salad sandwich from The Green Cart, with Dublin Vanilla Cream Soda. I used to drink a lot of cream soda when I was little, and I need to get back into it. This was an amazing lunch.


Fusilli with a light tomato sauce, mushrooms, and homegrown basil, by e.


Sourdough toast with fried eggs and homegrown (hot) jalapeños. We’ve been really into sourdough lately. I don’t think I can go back to regular bread. And it reminds us of our trip to San Francisco in December 2009.

Sausage pizza

Eric also made another pizza this week: Italian sausage with oregano, mozzarella and asiago cheeses, and homegrown sage and jalapeños. This was my favorite one yet.

Homemade sausage pizza

Sausage pasta

We used the leftover sausage to throw together another bowl of pasta! Mmm.


Breakfast by Caffe Medici: iced coffee and two Tacodeli bean, cheese, and avocado breakfast tacos.

Tex-Mex holiday party plate

Later in the day, I had this amazing plate of Tex-Mex goodness courtesy UT, at the Staff Appreciation Holiday Party. Yes, we got free margaritas! And I even won a prize!

Pan-Fried Salmon and Sage Spaghetti

Of course, we also had my Pan-Fried Salmon and Sage Spaghetti. So good!

Last night, I went to Clay Pit with my friend Kari, and, believe it or not, I didn’t take a picture of my food! (I had chicken biryana and a side of vindaloo curry sauce). For what it’s worth, I did take a picture of the front door.

Clay Pit

Players cheeseburger

For lunch today, I went to Players with my crazy coworkers. Of course, we all had the $6.00 lunch combo: (cheese)burger, fries, and a drink (free refills!).

We’ve had a good week. I had a lot of carbs.

This Week’s Eats: 11/30/12

Somehow, we’ve managed to eat things that weren’t Thanksgiving dinner! Here goes.

Starting on a sad note, we had our last meal at Sagra on Friday, November 17, with my dear friend Marisela. It was delicious, as always, and we even ordered Frangelico. So sad. You can get the latest updates on the plans of Chef Gabriel Pellegrini and the Sagra team on the Save Sagra Austin Facebook page.

Continuing our tour of the intersection of 17th and San Antonio Streets, I tried Dog and Duck’s bubble and squeak for the first time! It was excellent, and I think this is also the first time an eating establishment has provided me with enough sour cream (I adore sour cream).

Yes, I am that predictable. This is a mammoth burrito of perfection from Burrito Factory, featuring steak and grilled veggies in a whole wheat tortilla.

Oops, I did it again. I played with your heart. I made you believe.

I really shouldn’t write these posts at midnight.

My usual: tres tacos al pastor. But stay away from that “spicy” red sauce. It’s a mouth of fire.

The deluxe grilled cheese at Cherrywood Coffehouse. Provolone and swiss, cucumber, tomatoes, and red onions, served on whole wheat bread, with a side of chips.

Salsa verde and kettle chips at Hickory Street on Congress. An old favorite spot from my Capitol tour guide years, the revamped Hickory Street is quite a bit more sophisticated. So much so that we had to ask for these chips and salsa as a special order, off-menu. I used to work with a guy who said he wanted to run for the Legislature on the “chips and salsa platform”: he’d author a bill requiring any place that serves food in Texas to provide complimentary chips and salsa. Sounds good to me.

Duck tacos. Pretty good (if only because duck tacos are not standard, and duck is delicious), but not as good as Zesty Bean Dog’s!

And, finally, Hickory Street’s utterly ridiculous BLT. And by “ridiculous,” I mean “awesome.” I mean, look at it. My mom ordered this, but next time I’m getting it!

Oh, you know it.

El Mer.

Of course, I also made that Sweet Potato Soup with Candied Bacon recipe…

Once all the Thanksgiving leftovers were gone, our fridge and pantry were running low, so I improvised these black bean tacos with grated cheddar, Cholula sauce, and homegrown jalapeños and arugula. If only I’d had some sour cream.

Even worse! Macaroni from a box (to which I added extra cheese and black pepper, as well as three tablespoons of butter) and leftover Sweet Potato Soup. Notice, no matter how broke, we never run out of bourbon.

Another surprisingly good, should’ve-been-bad, thrown-together meal!

We had a box of instant “wild rice,” so I turned it into this wonderful rice and beans dinner.  I sautéed two cloves of minced garlic, one small green bell pepper, and one jalapeño (the last two from our garden) in three tablespoons of butter.  Then I added the rice, its flavor packet, some powdered garlic, one cup of frozen corn, and two cups of water.  I brought that to a boil then simmered over low heat, covered, for 25 minutes.  At the end, I stirred in about six dashes of Cholula sauce and 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, and served it with a final dusting of parmesan.

Cooking and eating this made me think about how far I’ve come in the kitchen.  And mourn for the 21-year-old me and the horrible, flavorless things I ate.

Thanksgiving by Wheatsville

Our casual Thanksgiving table for three.

Yes, I should’ve cleaned the candlestick holders and ironed the napkins.

Our Thanksgiving dinner by Wheatsville (clockwise from top): green beans with almonds; spicy German potato salad; vegan macaroni and cheese with broccoli; cornbread dressing; white bread dressing with sausage; turkey medallions with mushroom and wild rice stuffing; cranberry sauce from a can (not my choice!); and, by Eric: roasted potatoes, carrots, and sweet potatoes, with homegrown rosemary.  Plus red wine and rosemary biscuits from Wheatsville (possibly the best part—delicious!).

Wheatsville’s pecan pie was to die for. One of the best I have ever had.

And Fluffster didn’t even eat any turkey!

Of course, the leftovers are the best part:

For brunch on Friday, I made leftover turkey sandwiches with toasted rolls, cornbread dressing, and cranberry sauce. The best.

And we can’t forget the best part of all: Eric’s Pumpkin Roll.

We’ll probably be making another soon, as the crop of pumpkins down at our allotment garden is almost ready to harvest!

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. Check back on Thursday for an easy recipe idea for some of those holiday leftovers!

Stella’s Thanksgiving Recipe Ideas

Believe it or not, I’m not cooking a Thanksgiving meal this year, even though I’ll be at home the whole holiday weekend!

Last year it was just me and Eric, and our menu was a mixture of homemade and Wheatsville.  This year, we’re hosting my mom, who’s down from Paris, Texas, for the first time in exactly four years (she hates the drive, and I don’t blame her!).  I was originally planning to make my great grandmother Tollie’s cornbread dressing, and my mom even made a phone call to our Aunt Barbara to refresh her memory regarding the recipe, which neither she nor I have made since I came home from the UK for Christmas in 2003 (I think!).

But as the list of ingredients got longer and longer, and I considered the fact that I don’t have a dishwasher, and worried about the allergy attack I was suffering last weekend turning into a full blown illness, I decided the dressing with have to wait till Christmas.  I’ll make it in early December and post in time for your Christmas menu planning.  And when I finally post the recipe, you’re in for a treat!

Meanwhile, if you’re still searching for some fairly unfussy but crowd-satisfying dishes for your holiday table, check out some of my Thanksgiving recipe ideas, below.

We’re buying a garlic chive cheese ball from Wheatsville, but if you want to approximate that addictive, nostalgic flavor with a simpler recipe that keeps well, try Debbie’s Delicious Cheese Spread, one of my favorite family treats.

If you’re like us, and have more pumpkins than you know what to do with, try Stella’s Pumpkin Soup.

Okay, okay.  I lied.  I will actually be making my Southern Sweet Potatoes tomorrow morning while my mom drives down.

This morning on KUT, John Aielli was on a rant about how he hates sweet potatoes, and is tired of people trying to “fool” him into liking them, by making them into things like sweet potato chips (?).  After playing a few Calexico songs, he changed his tune and raved for a full ten minutes about Bettie Winn Reeves Harris’ sweet potato pie recipe.  If you make it, I’d like to hear what you think about it.  Apparently, this is the only way John Aielli can eat sweet potatoes.  Oh, dear.

For an even easier sweet potato solution, try my Perfect Oven-Roasted Sweet Potatoes.

If you’re like John Aielli and still hate ’em, try my Pesto-Tossed New Potatoes instead.

And you know you want some Macaroni and Cheese.  This one’s special.

Another of my favorite recipes on this site, that happens to be pretty Thanksgiving-y, is this one for Pecan-Stuffed Delicata Squash.  This one is a little more involved, but the result is so filling and flavorful that it makes a great alternative main for a vegetarian holiday celebration.  Something about the combination of nuts and sage approximates sausage, and I just can’t get enough of it.

A similar dish for meat eaters is my Bacon-Stuffed Acorn Squash.  I suggest pairing this with some Garlic Roasted Brussels Sprouts.

Another great main dish for vegetarians: Autumn Vegetable Fritters with Homemade Applesauce.  Or, save these for your Chanukkah party.

Another really easy, budget-friendly recipe that’s sure to please are these Roasted Parsnips and Carrots. Parsnips are a wonderful tuber to which I was first introduced at a typical English Sunday roast dinner. If your local market has them, try them like this first to see if you like their flavor. I love them.

For the opposite end of the diet spectrum, this sweet and low-carb alternative to pumpkin pie is sure to please any primal eaters: Paleo Pumpkin Pudding.

Finally, this is a picture I took this morning, of Eric’s Pumpkin Roll.  We sampled it for breakfast, but there’s enough left to see us through the weekend.  Though he says it’s “more of a pumpkin lasagna,” this sweet dish is both pretty and pretty filling!  He used homegrown pumpkins from our allotment garden again, so it tastes that much better.