Recipes Inspired by Musicals: Into The Woods

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Andrew’s a good sport about coming to the theatre with me. Any time we visit New York, we try to see two Broadway shows. He doesn’t even mind if one of those shows is a musical. He actually likes musicals, as long as they aren’t clichéd, and don’t come with a Disney pedigree.

Into The Woods is one of those musicals that I missed seeing live. It wasn’t playing in New York any time we visited, and I don’t remember it coming to Toronto. I was thrilled when I heard it was being turned into a movie.

One night early last month, Andrew and I were talking about going out. He said, “What about that new Meryl Streep movie?”

I hesitated. That new Meryl Streep movie. He knew it was a musical, right? And that it was a Walt Disney production?

And if he didn’t, should I warn him?


When we got to the theatre, from the moment we heard the words, “Once upon a time”, it was obvious Into The Woods was, indeed, a musical. And a Disney production. Andrew looked at me, incredulously.

“You knew this was a musical, right?’ I whispered.

He shook his head in disbelief.

“It’s by Stephen Sondheim,” I said. “You liked A Little Night Music.”

Andrew gave me a dubious look, but settled back with the popcorn.

He smirked through most of the first hour. The low point was probably the song “Agony”, during which he left to check his messages and, possibly, to phone for help.

I’m still not sure what turned the tide. Meryl Streep makes a pretty convincing witch. The presence of two of the loveliest (and most likeable) actresses, Emily Blunt and Anna Kendrick, probably didn’t hurt. Either way, by the end of the movie, Andrew was as invested in the outcome as I was.

In the end, I thought this movie was one of the most moving musicals I’ve seen. The woods represented experience, the leaving behind of innocence: life with all its joys and sorrows, sometimes both at the same time.

“Sometimes people leave you
Halfway through the wood.
Do not let it grieve you,
No one leaves for good.
You are not alone.
No one is alone.”

-       from Into the Woods by Steven Sondheim

The witch’s directions to the Baker and his wife were simple:

“Go into the woods and bring me back:
One: the cow as white as milk
Two: the cape as red as blood
Three: the hair as yellow as corn
Four: the slipper as pure as gold.”

Those rules might have been easier than the one I set out for myself, which was to find a recipe that incorporated as many of those elements as possible. This chowder uses milk (well, cream); corn; and burnished gold in the guise of butternut squash. For the red cape, I accessorized with a napkin in scarlet hues and hoped it was close enough. Best of all, this chowder makes a fairy tale ending beginning for any meal.

Corn and Butternut Squash Chowder
(adapted from Martha Stewart)


2 Tbsp vegetable oil
5 cups butternut squash cut into 1” chunks (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cups frozen corn
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
kosher salt and ground pepper, to taste
3 1/2 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
homemade croutons and shredded cheese, for garnish (optional)


In a large heavy pot, heat oil over medium-high; add squash and onion. Cook until onion is soft, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes. Add corn and curry powder; cook until curry is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add broth and simmer until squash is tender, about 25 minutes. Using an immersion blender, mix the soup until most or all of the chunks of squash have been blended. (The chowder won’t be completely smooth.) Stir in the cream and heat over medium-low heat. (Do not boil after the cream has been added.)

Add croutons and shredded cheese, if desired, and serve.

For other recipes that have been inspired by musicals, see the list at the bottom of my recipe index.


Julie said...

I'm not familar with this musical. Too funny about your husband. Yummy recipe, I love corn chowder and butternut squash soup, so this is for sure a must try!

Natalie Aguirre said...

I really want to see Into the Woods. Glad you liked it. And the recipe looks yummy, especially with all the snow today.

Valerie Gamine said...

I cannot wait to see the movie! (Is there anything Meryl Streep cannot do?) Scrumptious, cosy chowder; perfect for bleak mid-winter afternoons when it's too snowy to leave the house.

Beth said...

Valerie, I'm pretty sure there's nothing that Meryl Streep can't do. She is amazing.

Andrea_TheKitchenLioness said...

Dear Beth, the musical "Into the Woods" or as we call it around here "Ab in den Wald" sounds like a fabulous musical - I would love to see it some day.
And your Corn and Butternut Squash Chowder looks delectable as well (butternut squash just happens to be my favorite squash)!
Have a lovely Sunday,

scrambledhenfruit said...

I've been wanting to see the movie, but haven't made it yet. Love your soup- butternut is my favorite! :)

grace said...

i haven't seen nearly enough musicals and i still haven't seen that movie--two strikes against me! love this soup though, and how you connected it to your narrative! :)

Kayte said... have soup over here! All the rest is interesting and fun, but you have soup!! :-) All ingredients on hand so I guess I will go INTO THE KITCHEN tomorrow and make this one, looks too good to pass up.

Liz That Skinny Chick Can Bake said...

Katie wants to see Into the Woods--she saw the show in college and the movie is on her to do list. Maybe I need to go with her :) Or I could stay home and make your marvelous soup! I think I need to do both.

Beth said...

Ha! Let me know if you like it, Kayte!
And Liz, I think you'd have fun seeing the movie and making the soup too.

Daniela Grimburg said...

Your serie recipes inspired by musicals is such a great idea, Beth.
Now I learn about delicious recipes and interesting musicals.
Thanks for the double inspiration!

Pam said...

Oh, I'm glad you liked it, Beth. I've read about the play and would love to see it as it's here in Chicago now, or the movie, either one. Funny with your husband, that could've been mine talking. Streep is a great actress so the movie has to be good. Thanks for your review, the good recipe and the Steven Sondheim lyrics.

Jemi Fraser said...

Sounds yummy! I've been on a soup kick this cold winter too - will have to try this one :)

Cheri Savory Spoon said...

Hi Beth, I have never seen a New York musical, I bet Meryl Streep was great. Love this chowder!

Kayte said...

I did get this made today for lunch and it was delicious! A keeper for sure, thanks, Beth!

Choc Chip Uru @ Go Bake Yourself said...

I am dying to see that movie, though haven't seen the musical yet!
Delicious hearty chowder :D

Choc Chip Uru

Angie's Recipes said...

I like Meryl Streep! Bet the musical was fantastic. The chowder looks really warming and creamy.

Katerina said...

You can't go wrong with corn and squash can you? I am going to check the movie too!

Unknown said...

This is crazy because I love musicals, but I had no idea Into the Woods was first a musical. I thought it was just a movie. Thanks for the info!

Cakelaw said...

You did well to find a recipe incorporating all of these elements - it looks good too.

Marcela said...

oh! I love Meryl Streep! This is so great that you saw the musical on Broadway! I hope to be in NYC soon, I wish I could see it as well... I can bet that it was a great experience!

Juliana said...

I yet have to see this musical...the chowder sounds and looks delicious Beth...and I like the curry in it...
Hope you are having a great week :)

Barbara said...

I haven't seen that yet...but your post made me laugh out loud. Great soup, Beth!

Kitchen Riffs said...

I love your Musical theme posts! And this is no exception -- fun story. And fun recipe -- very creative. And perfect for February weather. Thanks!

Karen (Back Road Journal) said...

Your post made me smile all the way through it. From your husband not knowing about the movie to your clever chowder based on it. :D

amy (fearless homemaker) said...

Oh, I love the story of how your husband was won over by the time you reached the end of Into The Woods - I so want to see it! And I love how you tied this beautiful chowder into those lines - pure brilliance, my friend!

Catherine said...

Dear Beth, This was an adorable story that went with the soup recipe. xo Catherine

Inger @ Art of Natural Living said...

I so laughed at your story. I had to see Into the Woods without my husband, who only agrees to attend a musical if our daughter is in it! I tried to tell him that Into the Woods was more opera-like (he used to sing opera) but no dice.

Anonymous said...

I loved Into the Woods. My girls and I have seen it twice!

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