fractions, decimals, and butternut

After five month of “I’m going to start studying for the GREs” and one of “No, this time I’m really studying for the GREs,” I have, in fact, started. And what self-congratulations breaking the spine has inspired! My first day was Monday, and I spent three hours reading the Princeton Review’s guide to mastering the vocabulary section and working through some practice problems. Practice problems like finding the antonym of ludology, senescence, and . . . more words I’ve already forgotten. No problem! I have pages of vocabulary to memorize anyway. So please don’t fulminate if the vocabulary here gets a bit more, you know, erudite.

Today, then, was math time. For those keeping track at home, I haven’t taken a math course for over four years. I haven’t done particularly well in a math class for longer still (high school pre-calculus junior year?). And for full disclosure, I actually did start my first wave of GRE studying last May. I just stopped the very same day, because I stared at one math problem for a full minute, trying to remember how to find the area of a triangle. And then I was too embarrassed to go on. What a life.

Luckily, the Princeton Review folks are right there with me and started with the most basic of math reviews. I am a newly bonafied expert in multiplying/dividing/adding/subtracting fractions, decimals, percentages, exponents, AND square roots. Also, the value of Ballparking and Plugging In. (Trademark tactics, I’ll have you know. Comes with the territory, folks.)

And this is why I’m already a huge fan of the Princeton Review method — and, put forth with the greatest hesitation — studying? It really is angled like a review course for we brilliant folk who’ve simply forgotten long division, not like Adding for Dummies. I appreciate this. I’m starting at the bottom, I can divide 4/26 by 3/56 with the best of em and how terribly clever I feel! Once we start with geometry word problems, sure, this inflated pride will likely come crumbling down. (That’s how my career as a mathematician, so promising until ninth grade, started tumbling downhill too.) But here’s my moment in the Pythagorean sun.

Thus and therefore I made some sunny soup. Perfect soup, really. Thick and rich and even butterier than the name suggests. (Billy doesn’t call Ina Garten, alias Barefoot Contessa, the Butterfoot Contessa for nothing.) It’s also incredibly easy: once the squash is all happily roasted, you can go from browning the preliminary onions to dunking a thickly cheesy “crouton” into a finished bowl in less than thirty minutes.

Butternut Squash Soup

(A mash up of Barefoot Contessa and Smitten Kitchen recipes)

  • One medium-sized butternut squash, 1.5 to 2 lbs
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a chopped teaspoon each of fresh thyme, sage, and rosemary
  • a drizzle of heavy cream

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise and arrange, cut side down, on sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and roast in oven 40 minutes, until tender. The squash will be very easy to scoop out of its skin and lightly mash.

In a soup-sized pot, gently melt 2 tbsp butter. Add two chopped onions and brown until tender, about ten minutes. Add the garlic and saute for another two to three minutes. Add the chicken broth, crushed squash, salt, pepper, and herbs. Let simmer for five to ten minutes, stirring occasionally.

If you want/have one!, process the soup in a food processor until smooth. Work in batches if necessary.

Return to heat for another five to ten minutes. Before serving, add a swirl of heavy cream.

Gruyère Croutons

(This one from Smitten Kitchen alone)

  • 1 half-slice long cut of baguette
  • 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup of gruyère, grated
  • a sprinkling of fresh rosemary, thyme, and sage, chopped

Preheat the broiler.

Cut the baguette in half lengthwise and spread butter on each half. Put onto the broiler until melted and lightly brown, about two minutes. Top with cheese and fresh herbs and broil for another five minutes, until nicely toasted. Dunk with wild abandon.


3 responses to this post.

  1. if only i were so motivated… or cooked so well…


  2. […] The flavor’s insane. Insane rice? Yes. You must be catching on. Same goes with, you know, any number of recipes here or elsewhere that call for chicken broth. Make this; use it […]


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