soup with friends

Since March, I’ve attended zoom meetings, zoom bat mitzvahs, zoom birthdays, zoom Friday night drinks, but until last week…

I had never cooked dinner with my six college roommates over zoom. And can I say, it was just what the doctor ordered? We picked a simple recipe, a basic butternut squash soup, one that we thought our collective thirteen kids would enjoy, and a slightly more ambitious one (this naan or this easier flatbread) that was optional; I emailed the shopping list and recipe the day before, then at 6:00 ET (3:00 for my poor Seattle friend), we got to work, chopping and mincing, stirring, kneading, blending, gossiping, and — in the case of two tired doctors who had just gotten home — just watching and drinking. Through a group chat, the seven of us are in touch almost every day about the small things — photos of our kids, novels and Netflix recs, the best hair removal products — which, of course, taken together, are the big things, but our cooking session took that one step further. Being part of someone else’s dinner routine, complete with kids, partners, pets all traipsing around in the background…it was so comforting. I needed it. I recommend it.

Butternut Squash Soup with Apples
This is slightly adapted from an old Ina Garten recipe. If you plan to make the flatbread with it, your best bet is to make the dough first (it takes 5 minutes) which requires a 20 minute rise. During that 20 minute rise, you can start on the soup.

1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
leaves from three thyme sprigs
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 pinch cayenne (about 1/8 teaspoon)
2 1/2 pound butternut squash, peeled and cubed (about 6-7 cups, the pre-chopped will save you lots of time here)
2 small-medium apples (any kind) peeled and cut into chunks
4 cups broth (chicken or vegetable)
1/4 cup apple cider
Optional toppings: yogurt (shown), walnuts, chives, chili oil

In a Dutch oven or a soup pot set over medium-low heat, brown onion in olive oil. Add salt, pepper, thyme leaves, curry powder and cayenne (if the kids are OK with it) and cook about five minutes, until spices smell toasty and onions are soft.

Add the squash, apples and broth. (Broth should cover it all by about a half inch; if not add water.) Bring to a boil, then simmer 20 to 25 minutes until the squash chunks are tender. Puree with a handheld immersion blender (or cool and blend in batches in the blender) adding apple cider or more water until it reaches desired consistency. (I like it super smooth and creamy.) Serve in bowls with any combo of toppings.

P.S. Soup for a friend and 9 easy family meals we’ve loved to death.