Soup Series: Vol II

Yesterday I opened my purse and it was filled with candy. This may sound shocking to some, but I have been collecting candy all over town. I love Halloween, but for an entire week the world is covered in free candy, and, as my bag is witness to, I always feel the need to indulge. So of course, the week after Halloween is filled with immense guilt over all of the candy I have consumed. So I cleaned out my purse and started cooking.

Soups are a great way to fill up without overeating. Fall is one of my favorite seasons because the local produce lends itself perfectly to soups. Here is my recipe for Roasted Butternut Squash Soup. This soup is naturally thick and rich without the addition of any cream in the soup base. This soup is perfect as a main dish or a starter. Everyone gets so excited about roasting pumpkin seeds, but did you know that butternut squash seeds are just as tasty and a lot easier to extract. Garnishing you soup with roasted butternut squash seeds adds a wonderful crunch, and when roasted with chili powder, a nice addition of heat.

Butternut Squash Soup with Spiced Cream & Crispy Chipotle Seeds

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Spiced Cream & Crispy Chipotle Seeds

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Spiced Cream & Crispy Chipotle Seeds

Time: 1 hour

Serving Size: 2 – 4

Difficulty: Medium

Equipment:

  • cutting board
  • sharp knife
  • medium sized pot w/ lid
  • a large bowl
  • blender or immersion blender
  • 2 sheet trays
  • a peeler
  • a strainer

Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled* and cut into 1 inch cubes, seeds reserved
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tbs unsalted butter
  • 1 quart chicken stock (if you want to make this vegetarian use vegetable stock)
  • 1 granny smith apple, peeled, small dice
  • 1 medium yellow onion, small dice
  • 6 sprigs of thyme, picked (use leaves only) reserve one sprig whole for garnish
  • 1 tsp chipotle powder
  • 1/4 cup cream (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp paprika (optional)
  • 1 tbs lemon juice (optional)
  • salt & pepper to taste

Procedure:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. While the oven is heating, peel the butternut squash. *I find the best way to do this is with your every day peeler. Once the squash is peeled, carefully and with a sharp knife, cut it in half length wise. Scoop out the seeds and set aside.  Then, cut the squash into 1″ cubes. The size is approximate, but it’s helpful for the pieces of squash to be similar in size so they all will cook at the same pace. Once the squash is cut, place in your bowl and toss with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Lay the squash out on the sheet pan in a single layer and bake for about 20 minutes or until the squash starts to brown and is soft to the touch.

Remove the sinew from the seeds and wash in a strainer. Once they are clean, pat them dry and in a bowl, toss with a dash of olive oil, salt and the chipotle powder. Place on a baking sheet and toast until you start to hear them pop, about 7-10 minutes.

While the squash and seeds are in the oven, start your soup base. In your medium sized pot, heat the butter on medium heat. If you want this dish to be vegan, use a tablespoon of olive oil instead of butter and omit the cream garnish. Once the butter is hot, add your onions and cook until they begin to soften. Reduce your heat if necessary, you don’t want to brown the onions. Then add your apples and thyme, stirring to coat them in the butter. Once the apples haves softened, add your stock. Season with salt and pepper. Don’t over salt! The more the stock reduces, the saltier your soup will get, so wait until the end to adjust the seasoning.  Bring the soup to a  boil, stir reduce to a simmer and cover. Once the squash is ready, remove it from the oven and add it to the soup. Allow the soup to simmer, covered, until the squash starts to break down and the broth is very flavorful.

Here comes the “hard” part. If you have an immersion blender, you’re in for a treat! If you don’t, this step might take you a bit longer. With an immersion blender, turn the burner off and use the blender until the soup is smooth. If your soup is too thick, you can add 1-2 cups of water, making sure to taste and adjust flavor accordingly.  If using a traditional blender, you might have to work in batches. Don’t fill your blender more than 3/4 full, especially if you intend on adding water to thin your soup. Trust me, you might think you’re saving yourself time by trying to fit it all in one batch, but you will end up with a mess and a lumpy soup. Slow and steady wins the race! Once your soup is smooth, return it to the pot and reheat. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed.

The cream that floats on top of this soup is optional, but I think it really helps balance the flavors. To make the cream: in a bowl add the cream, cinnamon, cayenne, paprika, lemon and a dash of salt. Whisk together, but not too much or you’ll have whipped cream. Then with a spoon, drizzle the cream over the soup. Sprinkle with some of the toasted seeds and finally garnish with a spring of thyme. If that doesn’t taste like fall, then I don’t know what does!

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