Years ago during a very colorful autumn season, I attended a lovely late afternoon reception for a business colleague who had been promoted. Yummy bite-sized hors d’oeuvres were being passed by tuxedoed wait staff during this joyous occasion.
What I remember most about that October day, other than my colleague’s happiness, was a velvety butternut squash soup that screamed “AUTUMN!” The soup, topped with minced toasted pistachios and a thin sage chiffonade, had been served in tiny ceramic bowls for immediate savory sipping. I was determined to recreate that soup for my own recipe collection!
Butternut squash is readily available in your grocer’s produce section and farmers markets in the fall and winter. You can also find packaged butternut squash year-round in the frozen section of the supermarket. Fresh butternut squash may be available already peeled and cut into chunks which can save you some time. I prefer to buy it fresh and cut it myself, then roast it for a richer flavor. Try not to skip the roasting/baking step — your soup won’t have as much depth if you do.
The hardest part of this recipe is cutting the butternut squash in half for roasting/baking. You need a sharp knife and a cutting board that doesn’t slide around. The final product is well worth your additional time and effort.
Another ingredient that “screams” autumn to me is sage. Usually tucked into turkey stuffing at Thanksgiving time, sage is a pungent herb that also compliments the velvety butternut squash in taste and color. I grow several types of sage in my kitchen herb garden all-year-round. It does well in my Zone 7 climate and always survives the winters — even our “Snowmageddon” a few years ago.
This velvety butternut squash soup been a huge hit with my family and with dinner guests. And it’s one of the soups that my husband always requests in a heartbeat. It freezes well so you can make a large batch to enjoy if you prefer to keep it for yourself! (I do!)
From the kitchen of A Food Lover’s Delight….
Velvety Butternut Squash Soup
1 butternut squash, halved lengthwise, seeds and fibers removed from inside cavity, stem end removed
1 medium red onion, diced
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced
4 cans chicken broth or about 8 cups of chicken stock
1/2 c heavy or whipping cream
10 fresh sage leaves, cut into a thin chiffonade
1/4 c toasted shelled pistachios, finely chopped
Hand blender or regular blender or food processor
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Farenheit.
2. Cover the surface of a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly coat the foil with cooking spray for easy clean-up.
3. Place the butternut squash halves cut-side down on the foil-covered baking pan. Bake/roast the butternut squash for 45 – 60 minutes or until the squash is fork-tender or a skewer easily pierces the rind and flesh.
4. Remove the butternut squash halves from the oven, carefully turn them over, and scoop the soft flesh out of the squash rind.
5. Chop the soft butternut squash flesh into large chunks. Set aside.
6. Melt the butter in a large 8 quart soup pot or stockpot.
7. Saute the diced red onion in the butter until soft and transluscent.
8. Add the diced apple and saute for a minute or so until the apple softens.
9. Add the butternut squash flesh chunks to the soup pot.
10. Add half of the chicken stock to the pot.
11. Simmer for 20 minutes or until the squash, apple and onion pieces are tender.
12. Remove the soup pot from the heat and place on a trivet or pot holder.
13. Use a hand blender or regular blender or food processor to puree the soup in batches. Be sure it is well-blended and “velvety” with no lumps, fibers, or chunks of squash, apple or onion.
14. Return the soup to the pot.
15. Add the remaining chicken stock/broth to the soup and thin it to your preferred consistency.
16. Heat the soup through for about 10 minutes.
17. Add the cream and heat for another 5 minutes or so, being careful not to boil the soup or the cream may separate from the soup mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
18. Ladle the soup mixture into soup bowls.
19. Sprinkle the sage chiffonade and the finely chopped toasted pistachios over the soup.
20. Serve with crusty bread.
Serves 10 as a soup course or 6 as a main course.
Variations: Substitute vegetable broth/stock for the chicken broth/stock. Use chopped toasted pecans instead of the pistachios. Use fresh thyme leaves instead of sage. You can omit the cream if you are cutting calories. If you prefer a thicker soup, use less stock to thin it after the puree step.
If you cannot find fresh whole butternut squash, you can roast fresh butternut squash from your grocer’s produce department that is already cut into pieces. Just reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees Farenheit and reduce the baking/roasting time to 20 minutes or until the squash is fork-tender.
Trader Joe’s carries toasted shelled pistachios, as well as frozen and/or freshly peeled and cut butternut squash.
www.afoodloversdelight.com (Copyright Adroit Ideals 2012)