Back in December, I roasted a butternut squash in order to make pasta sauce. I ended up with far more puree than I needed for the recipe and so stashed the remaining pint in the fridge. A day or two later, my mother-in-law was over and we were hungry for lunch. I went rummaging and found bread, cheese, and that puree.
I scraped the puree out into a small saucepan and added some chicken stock, a little lemon juice for brightness, and a some pepper (I use Better than Bouillon, so the chicken stock had plenty of salt). We ate the soup, toast, and cheese for lunch and both marveled at how good it was.
Since them, I’ve made a point of having a jar of butternut squash puree in the fridge for quick lunches. Over the weekend, I roast a butternut or two (the finished puree freezes nicely, so you can always make extra if you’ve got the space) until tender, and scrape off the skin. The warm squash goes into the blender (a food processor also works) with a little water and I puree it until it’s smooth. Then, I spoon the puree into a jar and pop it in the refrigerator.
When I’m ready for lunch, I measure out a cup of the puree into my smallest pot, add a little bit of the chicken Better than Bouillon and about half a cup of water (there’s wiggle room here, depending on your desired soup consistency and how thick your puree was to start). Some days, I’ll add a little lemon zest and juice. Others, I’ll add freshly grated ginger and a little coconut milk. Yogurt, half and half, or sour cream also make really nice additions. As soon as it is warm, lunch is served.
Now, you might be wondering why I don’t just make a batch of butternut squash soup instead of this concentrate. It comes down to space, flexibility, and shelf life. I find it easier to make space in my fridge for a quart jar of concentrated puree than a larger jar of finished soup. I like that each day, I can make my soup taste a little different (I can also stir a little of the puree into other dishes, if the moment calls for it). And a puree made with nothing beyond squash and water lasts far longer than a soup that’s already been adjusted with dairy products.
Do you have any make-ahead staples that you’re particularly enjoying these days?