September 23, 2009

ringing in autumn: butternut squash soup

Folks, there is nothing better than fall.

One morning, you wake up to take the dog outside before the sun comes up, and you notice that the air feels crisp. The day never loses its charm; a cool breeze blows by and it smells unlike anything you've experienced all summer. The fresh produce comes in shades of orange, and green, and red; all of a sudden, soup is on the menu.

That's when you know it's fall. Not when football starts (because heaven knows it's still hot as hell then); not when school is back in session... But when, suddenly, the air changes and it makes you crave warmth, as if you hadn't just had a summer full of it.

So welcome to our Tuesday night. My mother's garden produced armloads of butternut squash this year, all from seed she'd saved from last year's harvest. Meaning this year's crop cost her absolutely no money.

Needless to say, I went home with no fewer than ten of these magical squash; the first batch added beautiful, nutty depth to a delectable dinner of pasta and pecorino. Tuesday night, I chopped up two more for something I'd never tried before, let alone cooked: butternut squash soup.

This soup seems to be all the rage, and I'm surprised I've never tried it before; it can be found at the grocery store in those fancy little cardboard soup boxes, and its color always seems striking. So I did a quick Google for "butternut squash," and found a super-simple recipe. I didn't really riff too much on it, for which I'm glad. This was a perfect taste of autumn. With 4 cups of broth, this may come out too thin for some tastes (the original recipe called for 6 cups!); if you're looking for more of a puree, either add more squash or less stock. We enjoyed the thin soup. I garnished it with a little pecorino, and think chives would've been a nice compliment to the slightly sweet soup.

Simple Butternut Squash Soup

2 tbls butter
1 medium onion, chopped
4 c chicken stock
dash nutmeg
dash salt
2 lbs butternut squash (about one large, or two small), peeled and cut into small cubes

Prep your veggies. If you're like me and have trouble with peeling butternut squash, take a look at this how-to over at The Kitchn. The trick is to be patient and, above all, careful.

In a large, heavy soup pot (I always use my enameled cast iron Dutch oven), melt the butter. Toss in the onions and cook them until they're translucent. Add the stock, salt, nutmeg, and squash, and bring to a simmer. Cook until squash are very tender.

With a slotted spoon, remove the squash and puree in a food processor or blender. Once the squash is very finely pureed (it'll look like bright orange baby food), pour back into the soup.
Stir well and bring back to a simmer. Serve with rustic, crunchy bread.


Stephanie N. said...

Oh, how I love butternut squash soup. The recipe I always use is very similar to yours here. It's so comforting, and I always think it tastes like Thanksgiving.