This weekend, my friend Sarah offered me her entire crop of butternut squash…because she didn’t know what to do with them. Sarah, you don’t know what you’re missing! This delicious squash has a simple, light, nutty butter flavor of its own but also provides a wonderful base for sweet or savory additions.
As we are on the cusp of Fall and the morning and evening temperatures are cooling, I’m ready to start on soups, and butternut squash soup is hands-down my favorite! Luckily it’s also the one I can’t seem to screw up despite the fact that I don’t measure…ever!
Here’s what you’ll need for my savory version of the soup:
- Butternut squash: peeled, seeded, and diced
- Sweet onion: peeled and quartered
- Carrots: cleaned and chopped
- Garlic: one whole pod peeled (not one clove, but the whole pod of 10-12 cloves)
- Stock or Cream: up to 8 cups, depending on your preference
- Spices: Salt, Black Pepper, Ginger, Cumin, Coriander Seeds
Get all the veggies cleaned and cut. I usually do this while watching a movie, a method I “developed” from my days living in a tiny Brooklyn flat with no kitchen counters. If you’re using fresh ginger, peel, dice, and add that to the roasting mix.
Spread them all out on cookie sheets, making sure everything is in just one layer. Dust with salt, pepper, and spices; use as much or as little as you like. Roast at 400°F for 45 minutes. Turn off the oven and let them sit for another 15 minutes.
Dump all the veggies carefully into a large stock pot. Here’s where I’ve got to talk you through some options.
Option 1: Stock or Cream
The difference between a soup or a bisque is the use of stock or cream as your thinning or thickening agent. There are a few other options besides cream for a bisque, but that’s the traditional one. Vegans can choose vegetable stock or soy or rice milk. For the least flavor interference, use homemade vegetable or chicken stock. For a richer, velvety flavor, use beef stock. For the sweeter version of this soup, use ham or veal stock. And you can always use just plain water, especially if you are looking for a thicker consistency and not worried about having to use too much.
If you’ve watched chefs on cooking shows make soup, you’ve seen the two methods: blender or immersion wand. Both can achieve the same level of smoothness, but the traditional blender will get you there faster; just make sure the veggies have cooled to room temperature before using the traditional blender. Me, I like the convenience of the immersion wand because I can pretty much put all of the veggies in at one time and both see and feel the consistency as I’m blending; it offers a level of control that you don’t get with the traditional blender.
I like my soups with a strong “mouth feel,” which usually translates into thick or stew-like. I know it makes the blended soups look like baby food and/or baby poo, which, by the way, reminds me to tell you that this is exactly how to make your own baby food; studies show that children who eat the same food and same seasonings in their baby food as their parents have on their plates aren’t as picky during their formative years, making meal time much easier to deal with.
When my Mom insists on the sweeter version of this soup, it goes something like this:
- Butternut squash
- Ginger, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Brown Sugar (during blending)
This version comes out similar to sweet potato soufflé (aka sweet potato casserole) with Thanksgiving spices and sweetness. I just don’t happen to like that very much.
Note for Sarah: other ways I use butternut squash:
- Oven or deep fried fries…similar to sweet potato fries
- Winter Veggie Salad with b. squash, zucchini, carrots, onions (or mix with orzo or rice or risotto)
- Mashed butternut squash
- Ravioli or Lasagna filling