We grew some really good butternut squash this year--maybe butternuts like dry weather, I don't know (the pumpkins didn't!), but the texture and flavor are excellent. I've roasted, mashed, and frozen the squash, and much of it will be used for soup.
If you haven't tasted squash soup, you're in for a treat. Here are two ways to transform the humble winter squash into a silky, delectable soup. While you can use any kind of winter squash for these recipes, I like butternut because the skin is thinner than that of other squash and thus easier to peel.
I tend to use these as first-course soups, but there's no reason they couldn't be the centerpiece of a lunch with some good bread and a green salad on the side.
The first is the soup I made for Thanksgiving instead of the ordinary baked squash I usually serve. We had a smaller crowd this year, so a first-course soup was doable. It garnered raves. (My son-in-law liked it better than the Carrot-Ginger Soup in this menu.) I adapted the recipe from one The Cafe Brenda Cookbook, a collection of recipes from the kitchen of a fine restaurant in Minneapolis.
Contrary to the recipe directions, I baked the squash, as I was cooking a large quantity for freezer storage. You can do it either way.
1 medium butternut squash
2 T. olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 T. peeled and chopped fresh ginger root
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. white pepper
juice of 1 orange
1 to 2 T. fresh lemon juice
Wash and peel the squash; scrape out the seeds and strings from the cavity. Cut the squash into one-inch pieces. You should have about 4 1/2 cups of chopped squash.
In a large soup kettle, saute the onion, garlic, and ginger in the oil. When the onion softens, add the squash and saute for 5 more minutes. Add the stock, cover, and simmer over medium heat for 30 to 40 minutes.
Add the salt, pepper, and orange juice. Puree the soup in a blender or food processor until smooth. Now add the lemon juice to taste, adjust the seasonings, add more water or stock if the soup is too thick, and serve.
Butternut Squash Bisque with Hazelnut Butter
(This recipe actually appears elsewhere on the blog, but I'm putting it here for your convenience.)
An avowed squash-hater once ate this soup and liked it! How's that for a testimonial? Well, vegetarian chef Ken Bergeron gets the credit. This is from his excellent book Professional Vegetarian Cooking, a book I highly recommend.
I had to make my own hazelnut butter, which I did by processing hazelnuts (also called filberts) in the food processor until they became nut butter. You need a workhorse of a motor for that--don't try it if you have a smaller or less sturdy processor. Health food stores are said to carry hazelnut butter; I can't say yea or nay to this. I believe you could use peanut butter--the natural kind ONLY!--and get a very similar result.
Be forewarned: the recipe serves TEN, so you'll usually want to cut it in half.
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
3 or 4 T. minced fresh ginger
1 T. canola oil
6 cups large cubes of winter squash
7 1/2 cups water or light chicken or veggie stock
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 T. soy sauce
1/3 cup hazelnut butter
1 T. or more maple syrup
few grinds black pepper
Saute the onions, carrots, celery, and ginger in oil over medium heat for 10 minutes. Add the squash and saute 5 minutes longer. Add water or stock, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and soy sauce. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes or until the squash is tender (very tender). Remover soup from heat and add hazelnut butter, maply syrup, and pepper. Puree in a food processor until smooth. Taste; add more maple syrup if necessary. The syrup really brings out the taste, but don't overdo. I had to use more--it just depends on the squash. Add a teaspoon of lemon juice, taste, add more to your liking, and so on. Adjust salt. If you are making this in advance, cover and store in refrigerator. Warm over low-medium heat before serving. It shouldn't be overly hot or the flavor won't quite be there.
Garnish with chopped toasted hazelnuts and chopped chives. If you put the chives on the soup first, the nuts won't sink immediately, I discovered.