Best Butternut Squash Soup

I love butternut squash. I love making soup with it most of all but even if you buy the biggest squash you can find it doesn't make quite enough soup on its own. Here's what I do so there's enough leftovers to go in the freezer.

First take off any labels and quarter your butternut lengthwise. Rub it with some oil and a little salt and stick it flesh side up in a 375° oven for an hour. It'll get nice and soft and just a little brown around the edges. The next part will be easier if you then let it cool down but I don't usually have time for that.

Grab 4 or 5 potatoes and 3 or 4 large carrots. Peel and quarter them and stick them in a pot. Just barely cover them with chicken (or veggie) stock and boil until its all nice and soft. If you have an immersion blender the next part is SO EASY. Don't drain the stock. Just cream it all in the pot. If you don't have an immersion blender (I highly recommend you get one), do what I used to do and pour it in your blender or food processor, trying not to scald yourself or get orange crap everywhere. Blend until smooth and return to the pot.

Heat up about 2 cups of milk in the microwave. Again, if you've got a stick blender this is simple. If not, well its a mess but worth it. Immersion blender folks will scoop their butternut flesh out of the peels and right into the pot of potato carrot goo. Slowly add milk while blending until you get the texture you like. You may not end up using all 2 cups. Food processor folks will blend in that with hot milk until creamy and then pour into pot of creamed potato carrot and stir until it is all incorporated.

Now you have lots of soup! Add salt, pepper, nutmeg and even a few pinches of curry powder until it tastes like heaven. While the pot is warming on low, keep stirring now and then so the milk doesn't scald.

These rolls are pretty easy and only take about 30 minutes.

To make crunchy kale topping take some washed and chopped kale and rub it in a little bit of vegetable oil. Add some salt. Spread out on a cookie sheet and stick in a 375° oven for maybe 10-15 minutes. It was quicker than I was expecting and I didn't actually time it. Some of the smaller pieces were brown but not burnt and it was all nice and crunchy and salty. I would eat it on its own as a snack but it was especially good as a soup garnish.

Creamy Leek and Potato Soup

I'll do the best I can with guestimating measurements. I didn't use a recipe. I just threw this together and it was so wonderful, in that way that a hearty soup only can be.

1 big leek
2 ribs of celery
2-3 cloves of garlic
3 TBL of butter
2.5 Lbs of Russet potatoes
2 Cups of milk
Lots of salt and fresh cracked pepper

Sauteing leeks, celery and garlic with loads of pepper in butter.

Cut up and carefully wash 1 big leek. Sautee it in a few tablespoons of butter (add a little olive oil if it doesn't look like enough) with a couple ribs of celery and a few cloves of garlic. Add salt and generous portion of cracked pepper.

Boiling potatoes and parsnip with some larger pieces that will be par boiled and chopped to create a heartier soup. Ira likes his soup to have manly chunks.

Peel and boil 2.5 lbs (I used about half of a 5 lbs bag) of russet potatoes. I left some just halved since Ira likes big manly chunks in his soup. They won't cook all the way through and that's kind of the point.

When the smaller chunks are soft enough to poke through with a fork, drain off of the water and set the larger chunks aside to cool slightly.

Immersion blender <3 <3 <3

Having an immersion blender helps this part immensely. Take 2 cups of milk and heat it up in the microwave. Then add it to your soup and blend till creamy. Cut your larger chunks into bite sized pieces and add them to the soup. If they seem a little too underdone, pop them in the microwave for a minute or so to get them al dente. You want the bits to finish cooking in the soup and stay hearty but not crunchy.

All put together!! Hot milk, salt and thyme were added.

Add your sauteed leek and celery. Add salt. Taste it. Add more pepper and salt and blend some more and wait. See if it needs more salt. I found this pot needed what seemed like an immense amount of salt. Always wait a little for it to incorporate before adding more so you don't end up over salting.

This soup was really delicious. Firm chunks of potatoes and super flavorful bite from the leeks. Also baked a boule of bread to tear and dunk in the soup. It was perfect on a chilly, damp night!


Moses came into our lives in such a strange way. A few weeks before Christmas in 2011 I had been talking to mom on the phone when she heard a noise downstairs. She got nervous and while I was still on the phone with her, went down to investigate. She found this scruffy, nasty little kitten crawling about in her recycle bin and licking the old cat food cans. She tried to shoo it away but it just wouldn't leave. My parents live way out in the country, out in the middle of nowhere. Where did this little guy come from? A few weeks went by and he was still hanging around. She'd tried getting rid of him, even squirting him with the hose but he was undeterred. He needed food, love and help. He'd always be waiting there by the back door for her. 

She asked around at the country vet to see if anyone was missing a kitten. No one was. This guy still had his fuzzballs and they were huge. He had 2 extra toes on his front feet and 1 extra toes on his back feet. It looked like maybe he was a Maine Coon. He was gonna be a BIG BOY. 

When we came down to visit this poor guy was still hanging around. He was smelly and his fur was all matted in clumps. I fell in love with him instantly. While Ira was outside enjoying his coffee, the little kitten hopped up on the railing, sniffed his coffee (but didn't touch it!) and then looked up at him and gave a loud "Myaaaaap." Ira decided he wanted that cat. He had always kinda wanted a Maine Coon but wasn't generally fond of cats. He liked Paul well enough, but that was my cat. He found his. 

We weren't supposed to have more than 1 cat according to our lease and I was a little worried how Paul might react. Ira was adamant. So we took Moses (mom told us he said his name was "Moses with the toeses) to the vet to get neutered and get his shots. He also needed to be defleaed and dewormed. When they were shaving off his nastiest hair mats, they found an abscess on his side about the size of a life saver. It was infected and giving off yellow puss. POOR KITTY! No wonder he needed help. So also a round of antibiotics for the little guy. The vet determined he was probably born around May 2011, maybe 6-8 months old. He's had some teeth knocked out that still to this day haven't grown back. 

We found him a little harness and leash and headed for home in Seattle, about a 12.5 hour drive. He refused the kitty carrier and I couldn't take the screaming any more. Once we let him out he stayed either in the back of the 4Runner sleeping or in Ira's lap, sleeping. At rest stops he'd go out on the leash and even went potty for us! He was acting more like a puppy than a cat. 

When we got him home, we kept him in his own room away from Paul with his own little potty box. Over the course of a few weeks we slowly introduced the two of them. Poor Moses had a terrible, noisy cold but since he was still on antibiotics we kept him warm and fed and he got better quickly. 

Then he started to grow. AND GROW. AND GROOOOOW!! According to his age, he still won't be done growing until next Spring. 

Moses is quite the opposite of Paul. He loves people food. He only has one meow and that's a hearty "MYAAAAAAP". When fireworks are going off outside and Paul is running for his life under the couch, Moses goes right up to the window to see what's going on. Mo will sleep with us most nights. He goes for walks on his leash. He loves car rides. He loves to run and pounce and chase but refrains from scratching on furniture he shouldn't and has never had an accident outside the litter box. Though with just Paul, we had one box that could be scooped weekly. Now we have 2 boxes that get scooped every other day. What goes in, must come out and Moses eats A LOT. 

Moses doesn't care for butt pats. He likes his face and nose rubbed really hard. He doesn't like getting brushed (Paul very much enjoys it) and with all of his fur we must vacuum often. 

Moses is clumsy and funny but if you haven't given him proper attention he turns into a hellion at night. He knocks over anything and everything he can find. He'll open and close cupboards just to make them thump. He'll get into the bathroom drawers and pull all of the hair ties out. He's gotten the nickname "Destructa-mo"!

He doesn't seem as smart as Paul sometimes. It took a long time to get him to respond to his name. I think I can get him to "sit" after saying it a few times. That or he gets lazy and sits on his own since I'm standing there talking to him. It can be hard to get him to chase a laser light or a fluffy thing. He'd rather lay on his side and sort of bat when it goes by... and then start attacking the table legs instead with his massive back feet. 

He's a good cat. He's Ira's cat. We love him very much but are so thankful Paul is there to "entertain" him while we're at work so we can return to a standing house. Someday we'll get a bigger house with a backyard that he can play in and get some of that energy out. Hopefully before he's done being a young playful kitten. A hefty 15 lbs kitten... 


Paul. AKA "Paulie Prissy Pants" or "Meowmers". Our domestic shorthair born sometime in June of 2009 I acquired him from a cute young couple off of Craigslist around June of 2010. I had been looking for a little kitten and going to the shelters but no one would allow me to take 1 kitten home to a house without other cats. Nothing I could say would convince them otherwise. Plus there was the cost of the rehoming fees. I was getting a little irritated and just needed a companion. The little kitten I saw on Craigslist was adorable and in a wad of plastic grocery bags and FREE. 

I took in Paul and it wasn't love at first sight. He made me a little nervous. He was also nervous. Twitchy. Scared. Hyper aware. I've had cats before but never one so high strung. I was worried it might not work out. A coworker convinced me to give it a week to get to know him. After that I was in love. He doesn't always like to cuddle and usually prefers his independence. That's why it feels all the more endearing when he brings his little purring face close to mine and snuggles in.

Paul LOVES plastic grocery sacks. They're his weakness. He'll even pull them out of trash cans and start licking away at them. I'm not sure why... Target bags are his favorite. He also will get into every box, every bag, every cabinet you open. If I'm carrying around a laundry basket, he wants to jump in and get rides. Ira and I stumbled upon a curious game that he loves accidentally. We were folding a blanket in the living room when Paul got really excited and jumped into the middle of the blanket. We bounced it around a little and let him down. He wanted MORE! We swung him around a bit and he just started purring. Now if we're making the bed or folding blankets, he'll usually rush over for a quick couple tosses in the air. For a cat that's so uptight for the most part it blew our minds that he would enjoy that.

He doesn't care for people food except yeasty bread. Especially Subway sandwich bread. He's not big on wet food either. Just likes his kibble. It's really hard to get him to drink water out of a bowl but he'll do it in desperation. Otherwise he'll chirp and chatter at us until we go turn the sink on for him in the bathroom.

He certainly seems to have a big vocabulary with all of his little mews and shrill cheeps. He also seems to understand us pretty well. He'll follow basic commands the first time you ask and responds to his name and a fair number of compliments. His other favorite thing in the world is having his butt pat. Right at the base of the tail he likes to be spanked.

Some of his weird quirks or slight downsides are he only likes to be held and cuddled on the right shoulder. He loves climbing about in clean laundry but if you leave any on the floor or dirty laundry where he can get to it, he's gonna pee in it. Almost inevitably. It helps us to keep clothes off of the floor and laundry washed but it is a serious pain in the ass sometimes. When we had a house with a backyard, he used to go outside when we were home to supervise. He'd scratch frantically at the sliding door and if it wasn't dark outside we'd usually let him out. We've been in a condo where he can't go outside and he still scratches at the big window in the living room if he sees a bird. He used to bring live birds and voles into the living room in our old house and let them go. That was always an exciting treat.

He probably did better in some aspects as an only cat but since we've brought him home a brother to play with he's gotten even more excitable and nervous. When Moses was small they would sleep together but now that Moses is twice his size and loves to tackle and bite him, Paul keeps his distance. Paul doesn't usually sleep with us. He prefers to sleep on top of a leather attache case on top of a bookshelf in the office. I usually try to remember to say "good morning" and "good night" to him. Oh, that's the other thing. His affection for leather and clawing things he shouldn't. Now that we got the new cathouse he's been a little better but he has destroyed a nice cream leather lounge chair that came with our condo (since the previous tenant didn't want it) and my office chair. Also the edge of our bed on both end corners has deep claw marks.

But all in all he's a sweet kitten. He's definitely more my cat and when Ira's gone he's quick to jump on my lap or stick his chilly paws under my neck while I keep hitting the snooze alarm. I love my dear little Paul and am so happy he's in our family.