As late autumn ushers in colder weather and shorter days I begin to crave the comfort foods of the season. Applesauce from freshly picked apples, hot spiced cider and hearty soups just feel like fall – they incite the senses and seem to warm the soul.
Grocery stores and farmer’s markets are now brimming with many varieties of squash, pumpkins and frost-sweetened root vegetables. Butternut squash has a sweet, nutty flavor. Its gorgeous orange color and velvety texture make it perfect for soup. Also highly nutritious, it is rich in beta-carotene and is an excellent source of Vitamins A, C, and also potassium. One cup (cubed) contains more potassium than a banana. It has a high fiber content and is packed with antioxidants.
There are just a few steps to this recipe and it doesn’t take long to achieve lovely flavors and sweet spiced aroma. On its own the soup is a hearty starter. When served with a crusty loaf of bread, slices of aged cheese and a salad, it makes a perfect light meal.
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup (Serves 4-6)
6 cups butternut squash (about 2½ pounds) peeled, seeded and cut into 1 inch pieces
2 Tbl olive oil
½ Tsp salt
¼ cup each of celery, carrot and onion finely diced (doesn’t have to be exact, a little more or less is great)
1 tart apple finely diced
1 Tbl olive oil or butter
1 carton of chicken stock (4 cups)
1 ½ cups water
1 Tsp sea salt
¼ Tsp finely ground pepper
1 Tsp cinnamon
½ Tsp nutmeg
½ cup whole milk
Crumbled goat cheese (optional)
Roasted and salted pumpkin seeds
Large baking pan
Heavy bottomed stock pot or dutch oven
Blender: Immersion or standard
Heat oven to 400°
Toss squash with olive oil and salt and spread in a single layer on baking sheet. Roast for 15 minutes, turn, then roast 15 minutes more. If squash is still firm after 30 minutes roast longer until soft and lightly browned.
Prepare Everything Else
While the squash is roasting, heat butter or oil in stock pot or dutch oven. Add celery, carrots, onion and apple and sauté on medium heat, stirring regularly, until soft but not browned.
Then add to apple and veggie mix:
Chicken stock, water, roasted squash, 1 Tsp salt, ¼ Tsp pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Simmer 30 minutes or more until everything is very soft.
Use immersion blender, or transfer soup in batches to standard blender and blend until smooth. If using a standard blender, fill less than halfway. Safety tip: remove the plastic “eye” on the lid, cover the hole with a kitchen towel, hold down, and blend at low speed. Using the towel over the lid opening will allow some air to escape and reduce the risk of blow back and a mess – or worse yet burns.
Once soup is blended, add the ½ cup of milk. The soup may be thick at this point and you may need to add more water or broth to achieve desired consistency. Taste and then adjust seasonings. Once you’ve achieved your desired flavor, ladle into bowls, garnish with pumpkin seeds and serve. Adding crumbled goat cheese gives another dimension of flavor, a savory tang to the sweetness of the squash.