First, the butternut squash soup. I like to start by roasting the squash in a hot oven til it's tender and slightly caramelized. Cutting it in quarters is easier and safer than trying to do a single lengthwise cut, since once you've made the crosswise cut you can put the flat ends of the two pieces down on the board to make the second cuts. After it's cooked it's simple to just lift off the skin with the help of a paring knife. I saute a chopped onion and apple in a little canola oil, together with the spices (cumin, ginger, and ancho chile powder), then add water and the squash and cook together a while. Add seasoning (salt and pepper, that is), some coconut milk, a little cream and a little orange juice. Whiz with a stick blender and it's done. I found the dried coconut milk at an Asian market. One little package is equal to quite a few cans, and takes up no space at all in the cupboard. Cheaper, too.
The cauliflower soup starts out the same way - the cauliflower is roughly sliced, tossed with a little oil and salt, and roasted in the oven. Onions are sauteed in butter, along with some curry powder (sometimes I use smoky paprika instead), then the cauliflower is added, along with some chicken stock, water, and seasonings. The liquid should just barely come up to the level of the vegetables. Sometimes I add a potato into the mix, but not today. The stick blender is used again, though this time I keep it a little chunky. There are really no rules about soup.
Chopped parsley is added at the end, along with a little cream and nutmeg. I saw Lydia Bastianich use a mezzaluna like this on TV once and hinted to The Daughters that I'd like one. Thanks, Z! I use it all the time!