Better Butternut Squash Soup: A Recipe That'll Knock Your Wool Socks Off

The cold, rainy, dreary, and overall stay-home-in-your-wool-socks weather we've been having here on the East Coast has left me longing for comfort food. And what's more comforting than curling up on the couch with a bowl of soup and an episode of Dexter? Ok so maybe Dexter isn't the most comforting show, but foodwise, it doesn't get much better. My full-'o-Fall-flavor butternut squash soup recipe will keep you nice and toasty warm on any chilly (or wet and miserable) evening. Inspired by almost-Top Chef Master Michael Chiarello, it's sweet, savory, healthy and easy to boot. Break out the wool socks people, because we're getting ready for a cold night in.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Extra virgin olive oil
1/3 C diced onion
1/3 C diced celery
1/3 C diced carrots
1-2 cinnamon sticks (Not the cinnamon-type? Use just 1 for plenty of Fall flavor)
Salt & pepper, to taste
4 C Low sodium chicken stock
1 butternut squash, peeled & diced
1/4 C half and half (for thickness & richness...want to keep it healthier? Skip it!)
2 Tbsp brown sugar

- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Peel and dice butternut squash. (Since this tends to require a very steady hand and a lot of elbow grease, I highly recommend picking up the precut, prepackaged butternut squash. For just a little more money, you'll save time and lessen your chance for lacerated fingers.) If using prepackaged squash, just do a little extra chopping to make sure the pieces are equal size.
- Coat squash with olive oil, salt, and pepper and place on foil-lined baking sheet (will save you eons of time in cleanup!)

- Roast squash about 40 minutes until tender
- Separately, heat olive oil in stock pot, adding carrots, celery, onion, and cinnamon stick. Saute on medium heat until softened, about 10 minutes (I like to use my giant pasta pot so as not to worry about hot liquid splatters!)

- Add chicken stock, bring to boil, then lower heat to simmer
- Add roasted squash and simmer all together for 10 minutes

- Remove cinnamon stick and puree soup altogether* (see below for instructions)
- Once pureed, add half and half and brown sugar, stir until smooth
- Adjust salt and pepper to taste
- For extra points, garnish with chopped pecans, or serve with a slice of delicious toasted bread

*To puree soup, I highly recommend using an immersion blender. This recent purchase has become one of my favorite kitchen tools for it's amazing power to transform food as well as its ease of use. I use it for various soup recipes and Shaun even uses it to mix his whey protein shakes after the gym! It's a wonderful item. Seriously guys, I picked up this one from Bed Bath and Beyond for $24 with a 20% off coupon. A minute of subversive blending and voila! If you are not so much into investing in a new kitchen tool, you can puree the soup in batches in a regular blender or food processor - but be careful (!!!!) Hot liquid + blending = hot liquid splattering.

Got any other butternut squash recipes or additions that have made your own creations uber delicious? Anyone planning to try this? Anyone else with an immersion blender obsession???