What do you get when you put left over butternut squash, corn, roasted potatoes and turkey all together and top it with a wee dollop of cranberry sauce?
That’s right! SOUP!
Ok that was probably not the first thing you thought of. Come to think of it, wasn’t the first thing I thought of either but never mind!
It is rare that I get to play with thanksgivings leftovers! Mostly because Thanksgivings butts up right against the start of lent; which means anything on the table that has touched meat becomes taboo.
I think my father enjoys this part of the year the most. Being Jewish he blithely eats the leftovers while the rest of us are eating vegetarian.
That is why this year one of the things I am thankful for is a little reprieve between Thanksgivings and lent; so that I could spend some quality time with my leftovers.
It is easy to get discouraged by a mountain of leftovers. Yes the meal was inspired and everything on the table was absolutely scrumptious! But that doesn’t mean that I want to eat it day after day. Which is why I am always looking for a way to wriggle my little fingers and perhaps a knife come magic wand and transform common leftovers into something entirely different. Something tasty.
This soup struck such an inspiration. It is everything Thanksgivings all in a bowl. But taking in the humble parts it becomes a rather less than humble whole. Velvety smooth base gives way to little morsels of Thanksgivings, each just toothsome enough to be reminiscent of the fabulous meal past. A little sweet, a little smoky, it is very filling. A new comfort food. Well, at least for me.
It was Emeril that gave me the idea. I caught just enough of one show to remember the title of his Smoked Sausage and Roasted Butternut Squash soup with wild rice. It sounded intriguing. And while I looked up the recipe…I really didn’t have the time to follow the instructions which had a cooking time of nearly three hours. And besides… my perfect method for cooking wild rice failed… and I got crunchy chewy wild rice instead of puffed with just a hint of resistance. This was despite and hour and a half of cooking.
But the idea was sound and I just happened to have some lovely butternut squash puree, thanks to a recipe I picked up in Orangette. The puree itself was wonderful, rich and complex with a hint of smokiness from the maple syrup. Its flavor deepened with age and was even better in the soup lending just a hint of sweetness. A perfect foil for a dab of cranberry sauce.
The smokiness of the puree was highlighted by the roasted corn and smoked turkey that were sitting primly in my fridge but really this is a soup that can be made any time with chicken or turkey and frozen corn kernels. In fact, with a little help from pre-peeled and diced butternut squash, this is one of those recipes that can be whipped up in almost no time at all!
Butternut Squash Puree
From Orangette, my changes in italics
5 lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into rough 1-inch pieces 
2 cups water
1 ¾ tsp salt, or to taste
1/4 cup maple syrup, or to taste 
3 Tbs unsalted butter, cut into dice 
Place the squash and the water in a large (5- or 6-quart) pot. [The water will not cover the squash.] Sprinkle 1 tsp of the salt over the squash. Place the pot over medium-high heat, cover it, and bring it to a simmer. Adjust the heat as necessary, and simmer until the squash is very tender, about 15 minutes.
Or roast the butternut squash at 400 degrees until tender. About 45 minutes. Roasting concentrate the sweetness. To roast the butternut squash, place in a single layer on a rimmed sheet pan, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of oil and a little salt. Toss to coat evenly and roast on the middle rack until a gently pierced piece cannot be picked up with a knife or until the squash is very soft.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the squash to a food processor and process it until smooth, adding cooking liquid as needed. I don’t add much liquid – only a little splash or two if the food processor seems to gum up. For additional flavor you can add a touch of cream or chicken stock as the puree liquid. Process the squash in batches, transferring the purée into a large bowl as you go. Stir in the maple syrup, butter, and salt – the squash should still be hot enough to melt the butter – and taste to adjust seasoning as necessary. Serve warm.
Note: This purée can – and, I say, should – be made little bit ahead and chilled in an airtight container. Reheat in the microwave or a 350-degree oven, adding a bit of water if needed.
 If you are not willing or able to butcher your own butternut squash, it is available already peeled for you in some grocery stores. You might find it fresh or frozen.
 Orangette’s recipe calls for 1/3 cup of maple syrup but I felt that was a little too much, especially since I had plans to use it in a savory application later on.
 This is also excellent with olive oil instead of butter.
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
1 – 1 ½ cups left over chicken or turkey, preferably smoked 
1 – 1 ½ cups corn, preferably fire roasted
6 cups chicken stock or broth
1 ½ cups butternut squash puree
1 cup of cooked wild rice or 2 cups roasted potatoes 
1 teaspoon cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
Place the chicken or turkey in the bottom of a large pot over high heat. Brown slightly. Add the chicken stock or broth and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the corn, bringing back up to a simmer. Lower the heat and add the puree. Allow to come back up to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes.
Season with cumin, salt, and pepper. Add the rice or potatoes and cook until heated through. Stir gently so as not to break up the potatoes or rice.
Serve with a little dollop of cranberry sauce if available.
 I like the smokiness in this dish if you don’t have smoked chicken, turkey or smoked turkey sausage you can add a few drops of liquid smoke.
 You could use regular white rice but this is a substantial soup and stands up better to a little bit of chew. Brown rice or wild rice is preferred.