Thursday, September 22, 2011
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
I love Fall. I'm fairly certain I could start every post for the next few months that way. I don't think there is one specific thing that makes Fall my favorite. I love the smells, the changing temperature, the changing leaves and the food....the warmth and depth that cinnamon and ginger give to soup, muffins, etc.
We went to our local farmer's market last weekend and it was full of Fall. Pumpkins, squash, rich maple syrup flavored with cinnamon and vanilla and apples. I was in heaven. As we wandered through the stalls, my mind raced with thoughts of soups, muffins and breads. There were so many options, but I knew that I couldn't take it all home. My kitchen is pretty little :)
As we wandered toward the end, my eye was caught by this beautiful butternut squash. Now, I've never really been a squash fan. I like zucchini, but the rest...no thanks. But this squash looked beautiful. Maybe I should broaden my horizons and try it. But how? I'd never cooked it before. I knew I didn't want it plain. They only thing I could think of was soup. The temperature has dropped into the 50's quite regularly. Soup would be perfect.
This was totally new for me; something I've never tried before. And I have to say...it was SO good!!!!! Its a little more sweet than savory, but its thick, creamy and extremely filling.
Now, the squash we bought was huge! I only roasted half of it and that was about 4 pounds. This soup is very easy to cut in half, or double, depending on the size of your squash. It would also be pretty easy to make it savory rather than sweet...just change up your spices a bit. Use some thyme, sage, ginger, maybe curry powder or a little cayenne pepper. Modify until your heart's content! :)
An item of note: I don't tend to measure my spices when I cook. These measurements are approximate. When you're cooking, always start with less and add until it tastes the way you want it to.
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
4 pounds squash
2 carrots, peeled and diced
3 stalks of celery, diced
1/2 large onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 small apples, chopped
1 cup coconut milk (can use half and half)
5 cups homemade chicken broth (can use veggie broth for vegan soup)
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 scant tsp ginger
1 1/2 tsp sea salt (sea salt is different than table salt..its less salty)
1/4 cup agave (optional)
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Cut squash in half and scrape out seeds. Using a fork, poke the skin side of the squash 6-12 times. Drizzle the cut side with a little olive oil and sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg, if desired. Roast until squash is soft to the touch. A fork should easily pierce through the flesh. You want it super soft. It will take around 45 minutes to an hour, depending on your squash. Remove from the oven and cool enough to handle.
Meanwhile, heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a large stock pot over med to med-hi heat, depending on your stove. Add carrots and celery; saute for 7-8 minutes. Add onions and garlic. Continue to saute until all the veggies become very soft, adding the apples last. The carrots will take the longest to cook. Don't add the onion and garlic too soon or they will burn.
Scrape the flesh out of the squash skin. I actually found it easier to turn the squash flesh side down and peel the skin away instead of trying to scoop the flesh out.
Add veggies and squash to the food processor. (Due to the quantity, I ended up doing this in two batches.) Add about 3 cups of broth. Puree everything until smooth. You may need more broth in order for everything to move well in your food processor.
Before you return the mixture to the soup pot, make sure that you wipe out any remaining veggie bits that didn't make it to the food processor. You don't want those little bits in your soup.
Return the soup to the pot. Add coconut milk and additional broth until you achieve desired consistency. I used 1 cup coconut milk and 5 cups broth. Our soup was still plenty thick and creamy. Add spices and salt. Stir to combine. Simmer until warmed all the way through.
If your food processor didn't puree everything the way you wanted, you can always use an immersion blender in the soup pot to break down any additional chunks.
Serve with creme frachie or sour cream.