A few days ago, while shopping at Whole F00ds, autumn hit me in the face; the fall vegetables are here in abundance. We picked up some beautiful butternut squash specifically to make a delicious fall soup. I have been asked repeatedly for a recipe for this soup because it is rich and satisfying without being full of fat. This great dish is also rich in nutrients and simple to make. It doesn’t hurt that the color of the finished soup screams autumn … perfect for any fall menu.
When choosing a fresh butternut squash look for a bright tan exterior, free of soft spots or blemishes. Butternut Squash is very high in vitamin A and C, a good bunch of B vitamins and several minerals. It makes a rich, satisfying vegetable or a creamy soup without being full of fat simply because of the luxurious texture of the cooked flesh and best of all: it tastes great. Full nutritional facts can be found here.
I always prefer to prepare butternut squash from the whole vegetable. Even though the frozen pureed and refrigerated diced butternut squash seem to be a great time saver they are actually inferior quality and very expensive per pound. Additionally, the diced squash has a shorter shelf life than the whole vegetable and requires refrigeration that the whole vegetable does not. You might be tempted to roast diced butternut squash and serve tossed with nuts and dried cranberries. For this you might want to buy the peeled diced squash available in the store. It is possible to peel butternut squash with a vegetable peeler ( a very sharp one), but I must caution that this is very difficult and possibly dangerous to do. Once peeled the squash can be diced, seasoned and roasted in a hot oven, a little water at the beginning will help the squash cook more evenly. I have found that the following method to be much simpler, less dangerous and produces beautiful finished product.
So many people have asked me for this recipe I am pleased to give it now. Preparing butternut squash is very simple:
- Cut the Squash in half lengthwise (use a sharp knife and be careful)
- scoop out the seeds and fibrous flesh from the cavity at the larger bulb end.
- place on a baking sheet, cut side down with a cup of water in the baking sheet
- Place into a preheated 400°F oven for 45-60 minutes, until flesh is soft throughout
- Squash can be glazed by turning each half over(cut side up), sprinkling with brown sugar or maple syrup and bake or broil for an additional 5-10 minutes until nicely glazed.
- it can even be cooked in the microwave as a faster alternative though the finished flesh tends to be wetter than that of squash cooked in the oven.
It is that simple! To serve just scoop out a nice 1/2 cup portion for each person and enjoy! You could scoop out all of the flesh and season in any way you wish but it is so delicious that it is really not necessary. This method works for all of the winter squash like: acorn, ambercup, autumncup, banana squash, buttercup, carnival, delicata, fairytale pumpkin, gold nugget, hubbard, kabocha, spaghetti squash, sweet dumpling and turban squash; there may be other types but you get the picture.
Recipe for Butternut Squash Soup:
- 1 whole butternut squash cut in half, seeded, cooked and scooped (butternut squash soup is a great way to use up leftover cooked squash)
- 1 Tbsp grape seed oil
- 1 medium to large onion, diced
- 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 stalks of celery, washed and chopped
- 1- 4 inch cinnamon stick
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup of dry white wine or apple cider
- 4 cups of stock (vegetable, chicken or even just water, use what you like! I have used apple cider too as the stock which lends added sweetness which is too much for me but might suit your tastes.)
- Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 tsp crushed whole coriander seeds
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
- 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 Tbsp of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice to add savory brightness (if needed)
- 1 cup heavy cream(optional) or try garnishing with a dollop of créme fraiche (optional)
- shreds of any good sharp cheese like aged gouda or a great cheddar(optional)
- sliced chives or green onion to garnish(optional)
Heat a 4 quart sauce pan over medium high heat, add oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the onions, sauté until translucent. Add the carrots and celery continuing to sauté until nicely aromatic but do not let the vegetables brown. Add the cinnamon, bay leaves, and the wine; allow this to come to a full boil to remove the alcohol. Add the stock of your choice, the coriander, the turmeric, and the ginger. Bring this to a boil, reduce to a simmer and simmer the soup until all of the vegetables are tender. Add the cooked flesh of the butternut squash continuing to cook to heat the squash thoroughly. Puree the soup with an immersion blender or whatever blender you have, return to a simmer and add the cream if you are so inclined or adjust the consistency with water or stock. The soup should have a beautiful shine and coat the back of a spoon but should definitely be thin enough to be recognized as a soup. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
This is sure to become a family favorite in your house just as it has in ours. Don’t be afraid to experiment with other seasonings or vegetables like perhaps using fennel bulbs in place of the celery or leeks in place of the onions and try using cumin or chilies to bring a new dimension to your table. Enjoy!