I mentioned in an earlier post how much I love making soup this time of year and with another snowstorm hitting YVR, I’m keeping my soup pots close to my stove. Here’s a pro tip if you want to make a lot soups – any time you make a meat meal and there are bones left, keep them and the gravy! Freeze until you have enough (one full chicken will do, or the bone from a 4-person roast) then put in a pot with a rough chopped onion, the ends of a bunch of celery, the leftover gravy and salt to taste, cover with water, bring to a boil, simmer with the lid on for 1-2 hours, strain, and if there’s any meat left on the bones, clean it off (when it’s cool enough to do so) and add into the stock (only if you want, you can keep the stock clear, too). It is good to use right away, or let it cool and freeze it for later, but don’t forget to label it, it can get confusing if you have a freezer full of these stocks and you can’t remember which is which. Play around with the veggies and spices you add to suit your own tastes.
Back to the recipe you’re here for though. I try to pick out a couple bombers of local beer every time I go to the liquor store, either ones I know I like, or ones I’m interested in trying. One of the last times I went in I picked up Bridge Brewing’s Uganda Sipi Coffee Brown Ale. Shortly after I brought that bottle home I decided I wanted to make a squash soup with a dark beer. I had to try the beer first! Well, I like my dark, strong flavoured beers, but I found this one to be a bit too intense for my tastes. The coffee is very strong, which if you like jet fuel coffee, this is very much the beer for you. It is robust, dark, and strong at 6.1% Alc/Vol, making me think of Darth Vader naturally, which told me that it would be great for adding flavour to my cooking. I’m planning to pick up another bomber to make my soon-to-be-famous cocoa nib bread, because the flavour of this beer paired with the depth that the nibs bring will kick your taste buds full of flavour. To pair with this soup, I made a quick rosemary black pepper focaccia bread and it was delicious!
A disclaimer, I tend to take inspiration from my shelf of cookbooks, and this soup was my adaptation of a recipe from The Soup Sisters Cookbook. Great book, try adding beer to every recipe, it could be fun!
Bridge Brown Ale Butternut Squash Soup
1 Butternut squash, seeded and diced (leave the peels on for more nutrients!)
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 leeks, white and light green parts only, washed and sliced
1 onion, any colour, peeled and diced
1 potato, peeled and diced
2 parsnips, peeled and diced
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 cups Bridge Uganda Sipi Coffee Brown Ale
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
½ c cream (35% milk fat is best, but any milk, dairy or not, will do)
¼ tsp grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat, and add all veggies. Sauté until onion is softened then add the beer and stock.
Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce and simmer, uncovered, for 25 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. The smaller you dice the veggies, the faster they will cook.
Puree the soup until smooth. This should be done in two batches, and I did add a little extra stock at this point as my blender was struggling.
Add the nutmeg and cream, reheat, and add salt and pepper. Before you serve it, make sure you taste it and adjust your salt and pepper as needed – I recommend adding less than you think you’ll need as you can always add more, but it’s impossible to remove salt and pepper after you have added it.
Dish it up with some buttermilk biscuits or fresh bread; the cocoa beer bread I mentioned above made with the same beer would be a perfect match.
Makes 4 servings