With the news full of scary headlines and it worrisome to head to the grocery store, not only because of bare shelves and limits on what you can buy, but also the fear of exposing yourself and family to the virus; this is a different world than even a month ago.
The stress of all the fear and uncertainty makes preparing a comfort meal an act of healing and hope. This Easy Instant Pot Butternut Squash Soup recipe is just what your troubled heart and mind could be searching for. (I came up with this recipe specifically for my sister who is very stressed with the best way to care for her family right now. It’s my way of sending her some love.)
The soup features butternut squash which is readily available in the produce section, even if there are no potatoes. Check your fridge for carrots, celery and ginger, and your fruit basket for the apples that are past their prime and are passed over. This is the recipe for those shriveled apples, sad carrots, and limp celery stalks. So take heart and do a little spring cleaning of the produce drawers in your fridge. A comforting bowl of sweet, silky soup that will soothe away your worries is only 45 minutes away.
Quick Fix for Limp Carrots and Celery
Before you decide to throw away those limp carrots and celery, try this simple trick to rehydrate them. Most refrigerators have a fan that circulates the air in order to prevent any build-up of ice (frost-free). While this is great for keeping the fridge working at peak performance, the circulating air hastens vegetables to lose water through evaporation which causes them to go limp. Storing vegetables in the produce drawer which has a higher humidity level than other parts of the refrigerator helps keep vegetables crisp, over time, even the crisper drawer can’t prevent the dreaded droopy vegetables.
To rehydrate limp celery and carrots add cold water to a shallow container that will allow the vegetables to be submerged and wait 30-60 minutes (or even longer). This will allow the vegetables to perk up. When firm, remove from the water, pat the celery and carrots dry and store in a plastic bag in the produce drawer. Look for recipes to use these vegetables within the week and enjoy eating your vegetables instead of throwing them away. This trick also works on asparagus and heads of lettuce. Be sure to remove any moldy parts. And if there are slimy ends, that is an indication of rot and it is better to toss than to risk consuming.
Did you know that the stem ends of fresh parsley and cilantro can impart a stronger taste of these fresh herbs than the leaves? The part we routinely remove and throw away can be used to flavor soup where the leaves would not hold up to the long cooking. This recipe calls for using the stem ends of a bunch of parsley. After the soup finishes cooking, you simply remove the wilted ends with a slotted spoon before blending. This preserves the beautiful golden color of the soup while still adding the fresh taste of parsley.Print
This wonderful soup is full of flavor and uses ingredients from the fridge and pantry. Vegetarian, Gluten-Free and can be prepared in under 45 minutes. It is comfort in a bowl during these stressful times.
- 1 butternut squash, peeled and diced (4 cups)
- 4 apples, cored and coarsely chopped (4 cups)
- 4 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped (2 cups)
- 1 leek, cleaned and coarsely chopped, (1 cup)
- 2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped, (1 cup)
- 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and coarsely chopped
- 1–1/2” ginger, cut in half
- 1/2 bundle fresh parsley stems, just the stems
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon white pepper
- Peel and dice the butternut squash, carrots, apples, leeks, celery and red bell pepper. Cut into pieces about 1-1/2”.
- Cut the ginger piece in half and remove stems from parsley, reserving the stems for another use.
- Turn the Instant Pot to the saute mode, add the vegetable oil. Saute the carrots, leeks, and celery for about 5 minutes or until the leeks have softened and there is some carmelization on the carrots and celery.
- Add the chopped butternut squash, apple, red bell pepper and stir to incorporate with the other vegetables.
- Place the ginger halves and parsley stem on top of the vegetables. Pour in the vegetable stock and sprinkle the smoked paprika over the top.
- Lock the lid of the Instant Pot in place and turn the pressure release to seal. Press the Pressure Cook setting, after selecting “high pressure”. Set the time to 14 minutes. (Note: it will take about 10 minutes for the pot to come up to pressure before it starts cooking.)
- Once the timer is finished, cover the Instant Pot with a dish towel and quick release by turning the pressure release switch to the venting position. A jet of steam with come from the pressure release valve which should be covered with the dish towel to prevent excess steam hurt you or your upper cupboards.
- Remove the pieces of ginger and parsley stems with a slotted spoon and discard.
- Carefully transfer the soup to the blender (do this in small batches) or use immersion blender and blend until smooth.
- Taste and add kosher salt and white pepper as desired.
- Serve warm and garnish with fresh parsley.
- Swirl in heavy cream and top with apple slices if desired.
Feel free to sustitute an onion for the leek. Or regular paprika for the smoked paprika.
You can use boullion to make stock if that is what you have.
- Serving Size: 1-1/2 cups
Keywords: butternut squash soup,