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Add flavor, drama to holiday table

Autumn's best flavors colors come through this velvety golden soup. A dab herb butter just before serving adds an elegant

Autumn's best flavors and colors come through in this velvety, golden soup. A dab of herb butter just before serving adds an elegant, flavorful touch.

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Updated: December 15, 2012 6:03AM



When P.C. of Northbrook requested squash recipes in hopes of adding flavor and drama to her Thanksgiving menu, Spice Islands, makers of spices, came up with two fragrant and memorable solutions — Butternut Squash Soup with Thyme Butter and Fruit- and Nut-Stuffed Acorn Squash. Also this week, Swap Shop regular contributor Madeline Nelson of Chicago shares her 30-year-old favorite recipe for beer-cheese soup with M.A.O. of Chicago.

Spice Island’s flavorful twists on squash will convince even skeptics of the deliciousness of the vegetable. Nelson relies on kielbasa to provide intrigue in her Welsh Rarebit and Kielbasa Soup, hearty enough to be a meal in itself when served with crusty bread.

To make 4 halves (enough for 8 servings) of Fruit- and Nut-Stuffed Acorn Squash: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Split and remove seeds from 2 acorn squash; set aside.

In medium mixing bowl, combine 1 cup chopped dried fruit (such as cranberries, raisins, apples), 1/3 cup chopped almonds, 1 tablespoon crystallized ginger, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Stir in ¼ cup (4 tablespoons) softened butter; mix well. Divide filling evenly between squash halves; place squash on rimmed baking pan. Cover squash with foil and bake 40 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until squash is done (about 15 to 20 minutes; insert fork to determine tenderness). For elegant finish, drizzle Grand Marnier over squash just before serving.

Requests

I would love a recipe for a guaranteed-to-be-tender pot roast with potatoes, carrots and onions.

T.M., Des Plaines

I’m requesting a recipe for a bark-like holiday candy I believe is called Peppermint Crunch.

J.V., Chicago

I would appreciate any dessert recipes that taste like eggnog.

C.H., Arlington Park

Send recipes and requests to: Swap Shop, Chicago Sun-Times, 350 N. Orleans St., 9th Floor, Chicago 60654 or by e-mail, swapshop@suntimes.com. Please include a daytime telephone number.



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