The toughest thing about preparing this soup is cutting up the butternut squash. Otherwise it is quite an easy recipe. Nowadays you can buy cubed butternut squash but if you buy it pre-cut at Trader Joe’s or a specialty store that means you are paying 3-4 times more for the convenience and your nice budget entree now costs the same as a pound or two of chicken. When you cut up your own squash, you get the seeds to roast, and butternut squash seeds, IMHO, are even better than pumpkin seeds. Once they’re rinsed and cleaned, coat them in oil and sprinkle some kosher salt on them. They toast up well in a toaster oven tray at 275F for 20-25 minutes.
I like to make Butternut Squash Soup, and all pureed veg soups, a day ahead to let the flavors meld. You can add the milk when you reheat and serve. At some point when I went to make this soup – a year ago perhaps? – I realized that the squash I bought was a little on the runty side and I was stretching to get 4 out of the 5 cups the recipe called for. Vamping, I cubed up a golden delicious apple to make up the difference. We liked that addition so much that now it is a regular part of the recipe. Sometimes adaptations work out, and I’m thankful for that.
I want to wish everybody a happy, healthy holiday with friends and loved ones. Plentiful, tasty food, and a moment of remembrance that those Pilgrims who came over here to the New World and started this whole experiment did so because they wanted freedom to practice their religion. True, they only wanted that freedom for themselves and they were stricter in their practices than the people in Europe they left behind; but hey, they risked a lot to gain their freedom and we are their beneficiaries. There are a lot of religions the world over, and probably all have representation in the US. I may like mine and you may like yours, and sometimes the twain shall meet, but that’s why we have separation of church and state. If I am preaching to the choir, let me hear you say “Amen!” :-)
Pureed Butternut Squash Soup with Ginger (adapted from Cook’s Illustrated)
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil or same amount of unsalted butter
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 Tbsp. Dry sherry or white wine
- 1 butternut squash, medium (about 2-1/2 pounds) halved, seeded, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes (about 4-5 cups)
- 1 golden delicious apple, cored, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
- 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth or low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- ground white pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger (or 2-3 tsp. fresh)
- ¾ cup whole milk (optional – I use more stock instead of milk, then it is freezable)
- 1/3 cup crème fraiche (optional, C.I. uses minced chives)
1. Heat oil or butter in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté until golden, about 5 minutes. Add sherry and squash; stir-cook until sherry evaporates, about 30 seconds.
2. Add stock, salt, pepper to taste, and ginger to saucepan; bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer; cover and cook until squash is tender, about 15 minutes.
3. Take saucepan off the heat. Use an immersion blender to puree the squash in the saucepan until the soup is smooth and all the same consistency. Add milk at this step if using.
4. Ladle soup into individual bowls. Garnish with a float of crème fraiche and serve.