My friends, it is in fact that time of year.
Pumpkins, squash, figs, plums, apples and pears! The beautiful rustic fruits and veggies of Autumn. Gosh, makes me feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside.
The dinner idea of the week is taking advantage of some that fall harvest goodness.
About a week ago, I made this butternut squash soup. Now, some folks who know me know that I have soup anxiety. Yeah, totally whacky, I know — but hear me out! Usually, it’s a texture thing. But I’m getting better. Soups are amazing things. I didn’t grow up eating them too often, which is probably where I get my odd sense of panic when there is nothing but soup for dinner. I am always thankful for a loaf of good bread, to sop up that good broth — which in turn, brings a bit more sustenance to the table.
This butternut squash soup is ridiculous. It’s creamy, satisfying and makes for awesome leftovers.
So let’s get to it before I lose your attention.
I again, have used Thomas Keller’s recipe, but it’s really not that difficult to make. I’ve changed a few things from his, but it really just comes down to technique. This recipe will make about six servings.
What you’ll need:
Kitchen tools – blender or immersion blender, a big stock pot that can easily hold 8 cups of water
- 1 3-4lb butternut squash
- 1 cup leeks, sliced thin [white & light green parts only]
- 1/2 cup carrots, sliced thin
- 1/2 cup sweet onions or yellow onions, diced [I use sweet because I think they go better with the soup.]
- 1/2 cup shallots, thinly sliced
- 6 cloves of garlic, smashed and left whole
- 2 sprigs of sage
- 2 T honey
- 6 cups of vegetable stock [low sodium or home made, if you like!]
- 2-3 T canola/veggie oil
- salt, pepper
- bouquet garni (a small bundle of bay, thyme and peppercorns wrapped in cheese cloth. Not THAT necessary, but does make a difference)
Preheat your oven to 350. Cut the round bulb off the squash (the part that contains the seeds) in half and scoop out the guts. Cover the flesh of the squash with canola oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Place one sprig of sage into each of the cavities and place flesh side down on a baking sheet (lined with foil, if you want an easier clean up). Bake for 45 min-hour until completely tender. (You can do this step earlier in the day if you want.) Discard the sage and scoop out the flesh into a separate bowl.
Meanwhile, in your soup pot, throw in a couple tablespoons of canola oil and saute your shallots, carrots, onions and leeks for about 10-15 minutes. I would add a little salt here to help sweat out the veggies a bit. While your aromatics are sauteing, dice up the neck of the butternut squash into 1/2 inch cubes. Discard the skin. Add the garlic, honey and diced squash in with the rest of the group and saute for another 10 minutes until the squash is tender.
Add your veggie stock, bouquet garni and roasted squash you scooped out earlier. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for about 30 min. Once everything has cooked down a bit, take the pot off the heat and discard the bouquet garni.
Here comes the fun part.
In batches, carefully pour the soup into the blender and pulse until there are no more big chunks. Once all the soup has been blended, place a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl and strain. Use a ladle or big spoon to push the soup through. This is important for the texture of your final product. The soup that makes it through the strainer will be one of the smoothest things you’ve ever seen. It’s just so damn beautiful!
And once you’ve passed all the soup through the strainer, season with salt and pepper and serve warm. I like to add a little creme fraiche on top with some chives and a dash of olive oil, but it’s all good by itself.
I do recognize that this recipe is a bit tedious, but you don’t have to do half of these things, though I think they’re important. For instance, you don’t have to roast half of the squash, but I think it makes the soup taste better. You could just saute them all at once. It’s up to you.
I hope that you try this out. It is slightly time consuming, but I found it relaxing to cook. I am also a nerd, so my opinion is biased. 🙂
Happy cookin’ to y’all and happy autumn from Southern Belly!!