Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Perfect Winter Soup & The Cozy Sounds of Belle & Sebastian...

Yesterday was the first day of Winter. The Holidays are here.  And in So. Cal, it's raining - A LOT.

Bad News: Rain makes Holiday mall traffic even worse because road are slippery and drivers are distracted with texting and holiday "To Do" lists.

Good News: This past weekend Z traversed LA and OC to attend 6 parties and only hit one inanimate object (GC - the white marks rub off the gate).  Success!  Nobody died on my account, and luckily my dad has a lot of white touch-up paint so front bumper will be A-OK!

The coming of Winter and the Holidays means holiday menu planning.  In case anyone is still pondering recipes for the upcoming holiday meal, I offer a humble suggestion - BUTTERNUT SQUASH, WILD RICE, SAUSAGE SOUP.  An Emeril recipe I stumbled upon from the Food Network website, I made this soup for my 4 wonderful best friends from high school for our annual potluck holiday lunch and it was a hit!

This comfy yet complex soup is perfect for Winter and something different for the holiday table.  The smoky sausage wonderfully compliments the toasted butternut squash, the rice makes it hearty, and the corn gives a touch of sweetness.  It's a special recipe that I plan to make into an annual holiday tradition.  

And speaking of comfy and complex, enter "WRITE ABOUT LOVE", the 8th and most recent studio album from Glasgow's 8 member chamber-pop group BELLE AND SEBASTIAN.  While chopping onions and sausage, roasting and pureeing squash, and occasionally stirring the rice, I was taking in this lovely album.  Like the melding of flavors in the soup, lots of elements go into B and S's sound (cellos, violins, flutes, trumpets, plus usual instruments) and the result is a harmonious symphonic-like sound.  Check out I'M NOT LIVING IN THE REAL WORD below featuring flutes.

Although Belle and Sebastian have been around since 1996 with great success, they are not a heavy radio airplay band, but were on the 2008 Juno Soundtrack with one of their popular hits PIAZZA NEW YORK CATCHER off their 2003 album DEAR CATASTROPHE WAITRESS (my favorite album).  Check it out below with it's quirky lyrics :

And for the piece de resistance video footage: NPR live stream of yesterday's Belle and Sebastian Holiday Spectacular concert from Glasgow.  They played a couple holiday tunes, their biggest hits, plus songs off their new album.   Not only is the show awesome, fans checked in from around the globe to watch - Brazil, Spain, US, Germany... We were a cozy community of fans watching over breakfast, late in the evening, or from our desks at work during the lunch hour.  I unfortunately cannot embed it, but to watch the show, click here.  Thanks NPR!

And now on to the soup recipe (Makes 10 servings so half this if you like.  I used 2/3.).  As fair warning, this soup takes at least 2.5 hours to make, but it is well worth it.  

Butternut Squash, Wild Rice, Sausage Soup

Here is what you need:

- 2 medium butternut squash, about 3 to 4 pounds, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch chunks  (I used one 2 pounder).  For instructions on how to cut up a butternut squash since my previous 10/7 post below.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 12 cups chicken stock (I used 8)
- 2 1/2 cups chopped onions (I used one small yellow onion)
- 1 cup wild rice (I used 3/4) (Soak the rice and use 3:1 liquid to rice ratio)
- 3/4 lb. smoked sausage, cut into 1/4-inch pieces (I used 1/2 lb. Use turkey or veggie sausage if you like)
- 2 cups fresh corn kernels (I used 1 cup frozen kernels)
- 1 1/2 cups half-and-half (I used 1 cup)
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
- Pinch (1/4 teaspoon to start) of nutmeg, cinnamon, cayenne pepper (optional)

Here is what you do:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

 Season the squash with 1 tablespoon of the oil, salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until tender. Remove from the oven and cool completely. In a blender or food processor, puree the squash with 2 cups of the chicken stock. I added a pinch of Cinnamon, nutmeg, and cayenne pepper for a kick.  Puree until smooth and set aside.

In a saucepan, over medium heat, bring 4 cups of the stock and 1/2 cup of the chopped onions to a simmer. Stir in the rice and cook until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed, about 1 hour, stirring occasionally with a fork. Remove the rice from the pan and cool. In a large saucepan, over medium heat, add the remaining tablespoon of oil. When the oil is hot, add the sausage and brown for 3 minutes. Add the remaining 2 cups of onions and corn. Season with salt and pepper. Saute for 3 minutes. Add the remaining 6 cups of stock and squash puree. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Skim off any fat that rises to the surface. Stir in the rice and continue to cook for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the half-and-half and reason with salt and pepper. Stir in the parsley, serve, and enjoy.

MMMMM!!!! Warm, cozy, hearty, and inviting goodness.  An ideal recipe for a rainy Winter holiday. 

Much love and peace to all this holiday season.

I leave you with the great Diana Krall singing her rendition of Jingle Bells.

Hugs and Kisses.


  1. Hope you had a wonderful holiday season.I came across your site from the foodieblogroll and I'd love to guide Foodista readers to your site. I hope you could add this butternut squash widget at the end of this post so we could add you in our list of food bloggers who blogged about butternut squash recipes,Thanks!

  2. Hi Alisa - Thanks for your comment. I did have a wonderful holiday season, and I hope you did as well. I would be happy to be a part of the Foodista blogs. I added the butternut squash widget. All best, Zeina.

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