Here IT is… the most incredible Autumn/Winter soup EVER!
If I could erect a huge 6-foot sculpture of butternut squash in my front yard ever Autumn, I would. There is already an imaginary one erected in my heart, I start collecting the building materials each Spring; I start building each Summer; and, on the very first day of Autumn, I erect my imaginary butternut squash just before I head inside and make the seasons first Butternut Squash Risotto. Butternut Squash Risotto is an institution in my Family. Each Autumn Equinox, we invite people over; I make a huge batch; I lavishly ladle it onto warm plates; I grate decadent amounts of Parmigiano Reggiano on top of each plate; and we tuck in. Ok, so maybe we melt into oblivion; only resurfacing to share a baked fruit crisp afterwards… but I digress! Risotto is not the topic of this blog.
Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup is the topic!
Maybe the biggest draw to this soup is that I only cook butternut squash during the Autumn/Winter months even if I see it in at the market all year round. I believe the best of the crop is available during this time. I have no inclination to eat an inferior, bland tasting vegetable… that more than likely had to travel across the globe to get to your market in the summer time when you can get the best locally grown, superior flavor winter squashes to enjoy during the proper season… and neither should you. (Putting my soapbox away – for now!)
Speaking of vegetable, butternut squash classifies as a fruit; much like the eggplant and tomato masquerading as vegetables. It is loaded with fiber, beta-carotene, potassium, magnesium, and vitamin C. A half-cup serving has less than a tenth of a gram of fat. It is interchangeable in many recipes, sweet or savory, with traditional pie pumpkins. More than 99% of the squash is edible – the flesh, seeds, and peel are edible; though you will need to cook the peel for easier, and albeit, tastier digestion. The seeds and flesh are edible cooked and raw. The only part non-edible is the stringy membrane around the seeds.
Roasting, to me, is the best way to extract every ounce of flavor from the butternut squash. I often start out each preparation roasting it and I always roast more than I need, as the chances are very great, that I am going to need to snack on a scoop or two before I proceed to the next step. Much like Chili and Lime Fried Okra, I can make a complete lunch out of a pan of roasted butternut squash.
My Recipe: ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH & APPLE SOUP serves 6 – 8
1 – 3-4# butternut squash, cut into 6 – 8 large chunks; remove seeds and stringy membrance; but do not peel
1 granny smith apple, core and cut into quarters; but do not peel
1 fuji, gala, or pink lady apple, core and cut into quarters; but do not peel
2 celery stalks, cut in half
2 medium onions, or one large, peel and cut into quarters
6 garlic cloves, peel and separate
3 T olive oil, separate
1 c non-dairy creamer, unsweetened soymilk, heavy cream, or 2% milk
1 quart chicken stock or very rich vegetable stock, more if needed
4 sprigs fresh thyme, separate
1 c cooked small shape pasta: penne, elbows, etc., optional
kosher salt, to taste
cracked black pepper, to taste
apple juice, optional
2 – 3 T granulated sugar, optional
Preheat oven to 375
Place cut butternut squash on a roasting pan; toss with 2T olive oil, season with kosher salt, cracked black pepper, and 2 thyme sprigs; roast in oven until butternut squash become soft and caramelized, about 40 – 45 minutes, stirring halfway through roasting
Place apples, celery, onions, and 4 garlic cloves on a separate roasting pan; season with remaining 1T olive oil; kosher salt and cracked black pepper; roast in oven until soft and caramelized, about 25 – 30 minutes, stirring halfway through roasting
After butternut squash is cooked, remove from oven; allow to cool and remove the outside peel; remove and discard whole sprigs of thyme
NOTE: Roasted butternut squash peel perfectly good to eat or snack on and removing it after the squash has roasted is much easier than struggling with a vegetable peeler or knife on the raw squash
Working in batches, add half of roasted butternut squash, half of roasted apple-vegetable mixture, half of the stock, and one garlic clove to a blender; puree until smooth; pour into a soup pot
Repeat with remaining roasted fruits and vegetables, stock, and garlic
Add cooked pasta to soup pot, leaves from two thyme sprigs, and non-dairy creamer, soymilk, or dairy counterpart; warm soup over medium heat, stirring to combine
Season with kosher salt, cracked black pepper, to taste; soup should be savory with a slight sweetness from the apple; to achieve the perfect balance, add the granulated sugar one tablespoon as a time, tasting after each addition until you arrive at the right balance; 2T of granulated sugar should do the trick… anything more becomes dessert
If soup is too thick, thin it out with a little apple juice or extra stock; depending on the sweetness level depends on whether you should then with a sweet liquid or a savory liquid
For an elegant and impressive starter, I serve this soup with an apple crisp floating on top with a sprinkle of fresh thyme leaves and a dusting of fresh cracked black pepper.
For a kitschy hor d’ouervres, I serve this soup, without the pasta, as a shooter in a shot glass with an apple crisp balanced on the top of the glass like a lime wedge over a shot of tequila.
For maximum comfort and a “warm hug from the inside out”, I ladle this soup into a deep bowl, grab a hunk of crusty bread, and dive into it all the while thanking the heavens for another season of butternut squash.
always in good T.A.S.T.E – cause you gottatastethis!