farmhouse butternut squash soup

Fall officially set in. All last week was cold, rainy, and windy. Basically the most depressing weather you can think of. It sort of felt like Chicago was holding up it's giant, skyscraper of a middle finger, while every once in a while stopping to point right at me, then resume flipping me off. I'm sure I'm not alone in this. Cold weather has a way of feeling so isolating and personal- like it's you vs. the world. So I fought back with food, of course. Nothing says, Hello, Fall. I'm so glad you could join us in your best fake smile like butternut squash soup. Paired with a salad using the last of summer's tomatoes and my new favorite dressing, I'm pretty sure this meal went a long way in working towards a weather truce- even if my heart isn't quite in it yet.

Farmhouse Butternut Squash Soup (adapted from Epicurious)

4 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1/2 pounds carrots, chopped
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
3 thyme sprigs
2 Turkish bay leaves or 1 California
3 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a 4-6 qt heavy pot over medium heat, add garlic and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is pale golden, about 1 minute. Add squash, carrots, apple, thyme, bay leaves, broth, water, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and boil, uncovered, until vegetables are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Discard thyme and bay leaves.
Purée about 4 cups soup in a blender, in batches if necessary, until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids). Return to pot and season with salt, pepper, and vinegar.

New favorite dressing

1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp soy soy sauce
1 tsp rice vinegar
1/4 tsp sesame seeds
Shake it up.