Squash Soup (serves 4-6)
Since summer has dwindled away and autumn has settled in, we push away our remembrances of alfresco dining underneath outdoor market umbrellas and look to heartier fare. Cooler weather, falling colored leaves, and football game tailgating parties nudge us towards transitional foods that warm us and cultivate comfort.
When the temperatures dip and Jack Frost can’t decide whether or not he’s going to nip at our noses, soups become popular and familiar friends. They can also, with a hunk of good crusty bread and a great salad, become an easily prepared dinner. (Add a batch of brownies, or if time’s not on your side and you love dessert, pick something up at a grocery store bakery department and the meal is complete!) Hint: Always have something sweet in your freezer that is readily available….frozen and out of sight so you aren’t tempted, but accessible if you need something quickly!
For this squash soup, I offer just a basic recipe created from various sources but suggest the following embellishments, alone or in combination, to make a good thing even better:
1) Cream! It only takes a little (1/4 to 1/2 C. to make a good pureed soup a richer creamed soup) and of course some chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
2) Spice! A chopped jalapeno and cilantro to give a spicy twist; or as we approach Thanksgiving, who doesn’t think of Turkey Day with additional flavoring options of pinches of ginger (fresh grated provides a little heat), cinnamon, or ground clove? Fried sage leaves could add a twist.
3) Roast! For a deeper richer flavor, roast the squash, garlic and onions in the oven on an oil coated baking sheet for about 30-40 minutes until soft (350 degrees). This also makes the squash prep easier for those who may have trouble cutting the hard veggie. The squash pulp becomes scoopable.
4) Protein! Add soft tofu to the final whirring processing (not my cup of tea but it’s an option!)
5) Crunch! Homemade buttery/garlic toasted croutons would be a welcome addition at time of service
- 2 large butternut squash (about 4 1/2 lbs.) or 4 lbs. peeled and cubed butternut squash
- 2 medium onions (Vidalias add extra sweetness to the final product)
- 3 cloves garlic (optional but who would ever make garlic optional??)
- 3 T. butter or vegetable oil (butter’s better!)
- 1/2 tsp. salt plus more to taste
- 2 T. (scant) brown sugar (more if you prefer more sweetness, but taste as you go; too sweet is no good)
- 8 cups chicken or vegetable broth (go for the chicken broth unless you’re a vegetarian)
1. Halve, seed, peel, and cube the butternut squash. Set aside.
2. Halve, peel, and chop the onion. Mince the garlic.
3. Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the butter or oil and the chopped onion. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, about 3 minutes.
4. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir. (burnt garlic will ruin your effort)
5. Add the squash and the broth. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until the squash is very tender, about 20 minutes.
6. Transfer small batches to a blender or food processor. Hold a kitchen towel over the top (to prevent burns) and whirl until completely smooth, 1 to 2 minutes per batch.
7. Return the soup to the pot and add more salt to taste.