Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup


So continues Food Network's Fall Fest with winter squash. The first thing to come to my mind, as I sure most people's minds, is butternut squash soup. With good reason. It's comforting, warm, hearty, rich, and not that difficult to make. Most soups start with a mirepoix (onions, carrots, and celery), which creates the aromatic foundation. Then add in cooked tender squash, stock, seasonings, and puree. That simple. Well, I find the most difficult aspect is the handling of the butternut squash. Every time I break one down, I curse at myself for not buying a cheap work horse cleaver from the Asian market. Hence I prefer to roast the butternut squash split in the oven. Then it works it easy to scoop out and add into the stock pan. Roasting adds a great depth of flavor from the Maillard reaction: the browning reaction (think meats, caramel, etc) that breaks down proteins and carbohydrates into small tasty flavor molecules. I add the mirepoix on the baking sheet to roast with the squash, too. That tends to get more browning, which means more flavor. Make up a big batch. It keeps well in the fridge and reheats well. Add a little flair by garnishing using your creativity. I prefer sour cream and chives. Other garnish ideas: roasted pumpkin seeds, celery leaves, thyme leaves, a sprinkle of chipotle or ancho chili powder....

Ingredients:
1 medium butternut squash
1 medium onion, chopped medium
3 stalks celery, chopped medium
3 carrots, peeled, cut medium dice
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
dash nutmeg
salt and (white) pepper, to taste
1 quart chicken broth, not all will be used (or vegetable)
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (optional)
1/4 cup half and half

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F. Cut the butternut squash lengthwise, remove the seeds with a spoon, coat with oil and salt, place cut side down on a jelly roll pan. Add the mirepoix (onions, celery, carrots) on the jelly roll pan with remaining oil, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Roast in oven for about 30 minutes. Stirring the mirepoix a couple of times. Done when the squash is fork tender and some of the mirepoix is lightly browned.

In a large sauce pan or small stock pot, add about 1 cup of stock and heat on medium. Add in the roasted mirepoix to the stock while the squash cools off enough to handle. With a spoon, remove the skin from the squash, cut up in smaller chunks, and add into the stock. Top off with more stock until the level of stock is about 1/2 inch above the vegetables. Allow to simmer for a few minutes, add in thyme or seasonings of your choice. Remove from heat and puree with an immersion/stick blender. If you do not have one, blend in a blender or food processor in batches as needed. During this, add in the half and half. Taste and adjust seasonings per your palette.

Notes:
This makes up to 2 quarts of soup. Adjust this recipe for your preference. I view a recipe like this as a guideline. Freezes well, too.

-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure


This is part of Food Network's Fall Fest, highlighting the produce that is in season. Check out The FN Dish. The seasonal produce we are focusing on this week is winter squash. Come over to Twitter where we are discussing it on #cookingwith and #fallfest. Here are other delicious features on winter squash:

1 comment:

Dishin And Dishes said...

I too posted soup..and we roasted teh same way! GMTA! I like your using the mirepoix ...I prefer savory over sweet for this soup! Great recipe!