It is time to start planning for Thanksgiving dinner and to stock up on a cornucopia of delicious foods from the Market. Today we focus on the classic American feast. When all is said and done, you can use the whole menu or pick and choose your favorites. One of my favorites is this Butternut Squash Soup!

Butternut Squash Soup with Marsala and Thyme 

from the Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Library, Thanksgiving 

With its autumnal colors and flavors, this soup is an ideal first course for any fall meal. A dash of curry powder would make a lively variation. The soup can be prepared one day ahead and then reheated over medium heat just before serving.

Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut squash (about 3 lbs.) halved lengthwise, fibers and seeds removed
  • 6 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 2 large yellow onions, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 5 1/4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream or half-and-half
  • 3 tablespoons dry Marsala or dry sherry
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • fresh thyme leaves to garnish (optional)    

Directions:

  1. Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F.  In a baking pan, place the squash cut sides down. Add water to the pan to a depth of 1/4 inch. Bake until the squash is tender, about 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Using a spoon, scrape the flesh from the skin. You will need 3 3/4 cups. Reserve any remaining squash for another use.
  2. In a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat, saute the bacon until the fat is rendered, about 3 minutes. Add the onions and chopped or dried thyme and saute until tender, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  3. Transfer the onion mixture to a food processor or a blender. In 2 or more batches, add the squash and puree until smooth. Return the puree to the saucepan. Place over medium-low heat and mix in the stock/broth. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes to blend the flavors. Stir in the cream or half-and-half and the Marsala or sherry. Add the cayenne pepper, and season to taste with salt and black pepper. If the soup is too thick, thin with additional stock to desired consistency. Ladle into individual bowls and garnish with thyme leaves, if desired. Serves 8-10.

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With a classic menu like this, your family will think they are living in a Norman Rockwell painting! So don’t miss the Market this Saturday to stock up on all the goodies you need to make these delicious dishes; and stay tuned next week for more fantastic recipes for a Vegetarian Thanksgiving feast!