Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

I'm not going to lie to you, this soup took a lot longer to make than I had anticipated. If you're looking for a quick meal, buy a similar soup in a box. However, if you don't mind putting in the time, this soup is great! Simple and subtle, it warms you up and fills you with comfort. It's also yummy! It makes a few servings, so either invite people over to share it with you or keep it for several meals.

I've never cooked a squash before in my life. Did I let that dissuade me? No! I've also never made up a soup recipe by smooshing together parts of different ones and rejecting all the stuff I didn't want. But did that dissuade me? Never! This used to be my favorite store-bought soup, so I was determined to make it.

I admit, for reasons of my own short-sightedness, I hadn't realized that the squash would have seeds in it. In retrospect, that is obvious. Anyway, I vaguely remember my mother scooping seeds out of pumpkins, so I just did that. The point is, I saw the seeds and realized I was in way over my head. But I didn't back down, no way. I love learning to cook!

I also put new bulbs in my 'happy lamp' yesterday, which involved an annoying amount of difficult unscrewing (not technically done by me) and the mysterious disappearance of one screw. Today, I made soup. I think I'm on a roll toward making Fall a happy time! Now if only I could accomplish anything else...

Time for soup!

1 butternut squash, about 3 pounds (just buy a sort-of medium sized one)
1/2 to 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 a sweet yellow onion, diced
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup apple juice
cinnamon, curry powder and chili powder, to taste

you'll also need:
cookie sheet lined with foil
food processor
sharp long knife
a bowl
heat-proof spoon
immersion blender
medium pot with lid

1. preheat the oven to 400F. Cut the top and bottom off the butternut squash, then cut it into four roughly equal pieces and lay them on a baking sheet. Dot them with the butter, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. (Next time, I think I will try brushing them with melted butter.)
2. bake the squash in the oven for 30 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375F and continue cooking at least another 10 minutes. They are done when you can pierce them easily with a fork because they're tender. (The directions I wrote for myself last night tell me I was supposed to cook them covered with foil at 400F for 45-50 minutes. This is why you should really read your own notes. I'll try to do that next time.)
3. when they're done, take them out of the oven and let them cool for a few minutes, then remove the peel and cut the squash into small pieces.
4. put the pieces of squash in the food processor and blend until mostly smooth. If you're using a mini-prep processor, as I did, this will take several batches. Put the puree in a bowl and set aside.

5. heat the olive oil in the pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook them until they're soft and translucent. (I also cooked the pulp I'd pulled out of the squash with the seeds. Waste not, want not.)
6. add the chicken broth and apple juice, raise the heat to high and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat, cover, and let simmer for 25 to 30 minutes.
7. remove the soup from the heat and let cool for a few minutes. Puree it using the immersion blender. Add the squash to the pot, stir to evenly distribute, then puree with the immersion blender again.
8. put the soup back on the element, over medium-low heat. Season the soup with the cinnamon, curry powder and chili powder, starting with one dash of each. Taste after each addition, and adjust to your liking.
9. when the soup is warm and seasoned the way you want it, serve it in a bowl and garnish with a few spice-roasted butternut squash seeds (optional). Enjoy!

for the seeds
butternut squash seeds
1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
dash each of cinnamon, curry powder and chili powder
pinch of salt and pepper

you'll also need:
baking sheet lined with foil 
small bowl
metal spatula
fine-mesh strainer

1. wash the goop off the seeds you scooped out of the squash in a fine-mesh strainer. Allow them to dry (or at least get dry-ish).
2. preheat the over to 350F. Mix the oil and spices in a small bowl. Add the seeds and toss to coat. Spread the seeds on the baking sheet in a single layer.
3. bake for 5 to 7 minutes per side, flipping with the spatula halfway through. When done, remove from oven and let cool. Use them to garnish your soup, or as a snack. (As you can see, I mostly burned mine. You probably want to do this at a lower heat.)

I made this recipe by combining several other ideas in an attempt to recreate my favorite store-bought soup.

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