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Butternut Squash With Ginger Root and Noodle Broth

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This soup is hot and laced with tons of ginger to keep anyone warm and happy. Normally, I use tender lemongrass stems when I cook, but I had the opportunity to use some fresh leaves from my neighbor's garden. In this soup, the lemongrass flavor works well because it is mild while the ginger is strong and delicious. Of course try and use fresh ingredients for this soup, it will make it wonderfully aromatic. I am extremely partial to ginger, it's one of those important mainstays of my kitchen, that I always keep at home in fresh, dried, and crystallized forms. I have one too many recipes here with a bit of ginger! I will admit that I am not a big fan of peeling and cutting pumpkins and butternut squashes. I tend to lean towards roasting these tough guys so it is easier to get the pulp from the skin. However, this particular soup required chunks of the butternut squash, so I saved some time and tears by purchasing the pre-cut stuff from the store. Sometimes, it really is good to let others help you.

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A couple of pointers when preparing this broth. Use a large stockpot or wok as you need to mix the noodles and squash in the broth. This will make it easy to toss things around and create less of a mess in the kitchen stove. I like to tie the lemongrass leaves in a tight knot and then add them to the broth when cooking. I then discard the leaves once the soup is done and the knot makes it easy to remove the entire bunch at one instance. I enjoy the complex flavors in soy, fish and oyster sauces, and I also love adding a little bit of soy sauce to the boiling water that I cook my noodles in because it gives them a nice flavor -- though this is completely optional. Do not over saute the ginger or lemongrass, or you will lose the aroma and flavor of these delicate ingredients. I do hope you get to enjoy this hot and gingery soup on a cold winter day!

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This recipe first appeared on A Brown Table on November 2, 2012

Butternut squash with ginger root and noodle broth

Yields: approximately 4-6 servings
Ingredients

3 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 bundles of Chinese egg noodles
2 cups peeled and chopped butternut squash
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 peeled and finely minced shallots or 1/2 cup finely minced red onion
1.5 inches peeled fresh ginger root
1 bunch fresh lemongrass leaves (this should be about 1/4 cup chopped or packed leaves)
2 chopped Thai chilies (use either green or red, both work well here)
5 cups water
2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
A few fresh cilantro leaves for garnish
Salt and white pepper to taste

1. In a pot, bring three cups of water to boil. Add the salt and soy sauce to the water. Break the bundles of dry egg noodles in half and then add them to the boiling water. Cook until the noodles are almost tender. This will take about four to five minutes. Drain the water and keep the noodles aside.
2. While the noodles are cooking, take a separate wok or stockpot add the oil, and heat on a high flame. When the oil is hot, toss in the butternut squash and cook completely until the inside of the squash is tender. This should take about 14-15 minutes.
3. Remove the squash from the wok, cover and keep aside. In the same oil add the shallots/onion and cook for about three minutes until translucent.
4. Peel the ginger root and julienne into 1/2 inch strips. Reduce the flame to medium heat and toss in the ginger and cook for another two minutes.
5. Add the lemon grass, chilies and cook for another minute.
6. Add the five cups of water, fish sauce, oyster sauce and lemon juice to the wok and bring to a boil. Once the broth begins to boil, reduce the flame to a gentle simmer and add the cooked squash. Discard the lemongrass leaves at this stage.
7. Transfer and stir in the drained noodles to the simmering broth.
8. Season the broth with salt and pepper, according to taste. Stir in the chopped cilantro to the broth. Prior to serving, garnish the broth with a few whole cilantro leaves in individual soup bowls. Serve hot.