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Food: Feasts Under $5 and Meatless Monday – Squash and Parsnip Soup

September 26, 2011

I’m so excited for fall that I’ve already started wearing sweaters, even though it’s been unseasonable warm here in Boston. I’m ready for stew and roasts and meatballs and pie, and I’m sick to death of fruit salad. To further the fall weather along, I’ve put together a recipe for Squash and Parsnip Soup, which I’ll also be discussing during my demo at the Boston Local Food Festival on Saturday. This soup is really easy, but you do need a good blender to get the right consistency (I use my beloved Vitamix).

Squash and parnsips are readily available at most local farmer’s markets right now, or they are in season at your neighborhood grocery store. The natural creaminess of the squash lets you forego actual cream, but I do add a little butter for the texture. If you wanted to make this vegan, just forget about the butter and use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.

Butternut Squash and Parsnip Soup:
2 cups butternut squash, chopped
2 cups parsnips, chopped
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 small shallot
3 tbsp unsalted butter
2 cups chicken broth (plus one cup in case you want to thin the soup)
1/2 tsp salt

Place chopped squash, shallot, and parsnips on a cookie sheet.  Break thyme sprigs in half and crumble over vegetables, then roast for 30 minutes at 350. Put vegetables, butter, broth, and salt in a blender, blend on high until smooth. Add more chicken broth in 1/4 cup increments, if needed.

Financial Analysis:
Squash: $2.00
Parsnips: $2.00
Fresh Thyme: $2.69
Shallot: $.50
Chicken broth: $2.39
Total: $9.58 or $2.39 per serving.

As always, I assume you have pantry staples.You could cut out $2.69 by using dried thyme from your pantry, but this is a case where fresh herbs make a difference. Plus, the fresh thyme will keep for at least two weeks in your fridge (seal it in plastic and push out the air) or you can dry it and use it for months.

This soup is pretty filling on its own, but a few inexpensive additions to the meal could be: 
Loaf of bread, grilled:  $3
4 apples and 1 onion, sliced and sautéed with butter and cinnamon: $4
4 baked potatoes and sour cream: $5

Voila.

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