Butternut squash soup request yields filling supper
by Alan Reed
Jul 18, 2007 | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
I’ve had a few requests to cook squash soup. Unfortunately, pumpkins and butternut squash aren’t available yet locally, but while in Paducah last weekend visiting family, I came across some fresh butternut squash to cook with. I know a lot of people think of pumpkins and squash as a fall vegetable, but I think that is only by tradition. Once I cooked my soup, I figured it stands on its own all year long as a tasty and unusual treat.

To start with, I needed a squash, which my Aunt Nancy gladly provided. We picked out a two-and-a-half pound butternut squash from a grocery store in Paducah that couldn’t be beat. Butternuts are different from regular summer squashes, in that they are more akin to pumpkins, with a firm orange interior, and a small, hollow section full of seeds like a pumpkin. The meat of the squash is easily roasted, which some soup recipes call for, though mine saw me boiling it.

The soup began with the usual mirepoix. I diced a medium onion, a rib of celery and a large carrot and began to sauté them in a five-quart pot with three tablespoons of melted butter. When the onions begin to turn translucent, that is the time to give the soup its main seasoning. Add two tablespoons of curry powder and another teaspoon of chili powder. Squash and pumpkins don’t have an overwhelming amount of flavor to start with, so we use some savory spices in the beginning. To eventually emulsify the soup and for boiling liquid, add two and a half cups of chicken broth and allow it to boil for a few minutes.

The squash is prepared by using a peeler to remove the rind. Scrape the squash down to reveal the orange meat in the center, then cut it in half from the stem down. Scrape out the seeds and membranes in the bottom with a large spoon. Once this is complete, cut the halves into quarters, and then slice the squash into chunks. Add them to the pot.

A controversial ingredient in this recipe that surprised the woman who made the request is apples. I figured that the correct ratio for soup is one apple per one pound of squash. With apologies to Mrs. Griesemer, I could find no Jonathans, and opted for the easy-to-find Granny Smith apples. Peel and core the apples before slicing them into 1/8 sections. Put the apples into the pot as well, with a quarter teaspoon of salt and pepper. To give the apples and pumpkin a bit of zing, I added a pinch of ground ginger and an equal amount of cinnamon. We need only a pinch as we are not making pumpkin pie. To compliment the Once the mixture is boiling again, reduce the heat to simmer and cover the pot. While the soup simmers, peel two cloves of garlic and baste them in olive oil. Wrap them in foil and bake them in your oven for six minutes at 350 degrees. Roasted garlic adds a mild nutty flavor to anything it ends up in, so don’t worry about it tasting too sharp.

After about 40 minutes, the apples and squash grew very tender. Use a colander over another large five-quart pot and pour the vegetables and broth through. The colander will catch the vegetables and the pot will hold the liquid which should be reserved. Return the broth to the stove on low heat to the original pot on the stove. Take the two cloves of roasted garlic apples and squash and puree it in batches in your food processor or blender until all is at a smooth consistency. Return the pureed vegetables to the broth in the pot.

Stir the puree and original broth well, and emulsify it with one-and-a-half cups of additional chicken broth. For a creamy and hearty soup, add a half-cup of heavy cream. Stir the pot gently and heat on low. Too much heat will cause the butter and cream to separate, making for an oily looking soup. Bring the heat close to a simmer, but do not allow to bubble. For a bit more flavor, I added another teaspoon of butter and a tablespoon of dried parsley.

Once the soup is hot enough to eat, but not boiling, remove it from the fire and serve in bowls. I garnished my soup with a dollop of sour cream on top which Hawkins and I swirled down into the bowls.

Especially with the apples, we found we had a very delicious soup. I think the one who made the request would have approved whole-heartedly. The warmth of curry and chili combined with the aromatic spices and savory vegetables in a creamy medley in our bowls. Hawkins enjoyed two bowls with a few slices of a coarse whole wheat bread, and so did I. With a full tummy, I soon fell asleep as we attempted to watch the animated feature, “The Iron Giant.” Even though I slept through the second half of the film, a tummy full of rich squash soup meant that a good time was had by all. Good eating.
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