Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

- 1 medium squash
- 6+ cloves garlic
- yellow onion
- extra virgin olive oil
- fresh thyme sprigs
- 4 cups chicken stock
- salt & pepper
- 1/4 cup 1/2 and 1/2 or heavy cream (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut squash in half length-wise and scoop out the seeds. Place on baking sheet, and fill empty cavities with at least 3 cloves garlic and 2-3 thyme sprigs each. Then drizzle halves with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Carefully flip the squash over on its belly so the cut side is down, being careful to keep the garlic and thyme underneath. Roast for about one hour, until it’s nice and tender and caramelised (you can check this with a fork - if it sinks into squash with ease, it’s done!).

Meanwhile, in a medium pot on medium heat, sauté the onion in a tablespoon or two of oil until it begins to brown. Once the squash is finished roasting, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool for a bit. Put garlic aside and toss the thyme. Scoop out the squash flesh from the skin (be gentle, because the skin tears super easily). Dump squash and reserved garlic into the pot with onion, and turn up the heat a bit, allowing the squash to caramelise a bit. Break up the squash with a spoon and stir it so it doesn’t stick to the pot.

After the squash is nicely caramelised, add the chicken stock to the pot. Stir, and allow it to simmer for 10-15 minutes. Using an immersion blender, puree until smooth. Remove from heat and add 1/2 and 1/2, if you’re using it! Taste, and add salt & pepper as needed.

Beef barley soup


We broke a record for rainfall yesterday. It was so dark and gloomy, I turned on cheery lights as I went from room to room.

After being on the road for a long weekend, was tired of eating out and craved some good, homemade comfort food. I needed to sear good meat in my Dutch oven and brown onions in rich olive oil. I needed our little house to smell snug and warm in that gloom. I opened a bottle of good red wine mid-afternoon and got to work.

My sister in law told me about a soup a few days ago that sounded exactly right. It was perfect. We ate it with Portland French bread along with a new bottle of wine. (The earlier one was gone.)

A recipe modified from Martha Stewart.


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound chuck steak, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, chopped
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic (from 4 cloves)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3/4 cup dry red wine
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 3 cups water
  • 3/4 cup pearl barley, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley


Heat 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon oil in a medium Dutch oven or a large pot over medium-high heat. Season beef with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and in two batches, brown on all sides, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a plate using a slotted spoon.

Reduce heat to medium. Add remaining 2 teaspoons oil, and cook onion, carrot, and mushrooms until golden, stirring occasionally, 12 to 15 minutes.

Add garlic and tomato paste, and cook, stirring, until caramelized, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat, and add wine. Return to heat, and bring to a boil, scraping up brown bits from bottom using a wooden spoon. Cook until reduced by half, about 5 minutes.

Return beef to pot, and add stock and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour.

Add barley, and cook, covered, for 20 minutes. Uncover, and cook until beef and barley are tender, 20 to 25 minutes more. Add more water if necessary. Stir in parsley. Divide soup among 6 bowls.