Time for soup
It might have been kind of hot this week, but the heart wants what the heart wants—I want autumn, and I want soup, specifically Roasted Butternut Squash Soup. The guy at the wine shop said he made a pot roast, so I think everyone’s mental clocks have flipped with the middle of October, and it’s time. For me, it’s time for soup.
So after a lovely afternoon picnic in a park with dear friends and their adorable baby who just learned how to crawl, I headed home to make a pot of autumnal gold.
I just had to turn on the fan.
The perfect autumnal soup: Roasted Butternut Squash
I think I made something like this soup for the first time with a friend who’d just gone vegetarian right after I’d stopped (we used veggie stock). We took a couple of different recipes and kind of mashed them together. She added things, and I added things, and, behold, it was good.
I’ve done a little of this and a little of that over the years, making this perhaps my ultimate back-pocket recipe. I like the vinegar addition, as it gives it a subtle zing that it was missing. I add torn sage at the end, because I like the freshness of it, but it’s a really good soup without it if that’s your thing. I’m doing a lot with fresh bay leaves these days, and I think that they make a difference.
I’d found one technique for roasting squash whole as a way to make the whole peeling and gutting squash easier. That’s the one thing I’ve never tinkered with. Sometimes I intend to at least split open the squash and gut it and then roast it, but then I just start stabbing the squash, and I stick it in the oven. I have no regrets.
Take your time, and taste as you go
If there’s one thing I’ve learned with making this soup, it’s that soup takes as long as it takes, and that a long, slow simmer works magic. Use the cook times as suggestions, but it’s done when you think it’s done. Better to simmer a bit longer and get something that tastes perfect than to follow my cook time and not be able to puree it. Do note that the squash needs time to cool down enough to be able to handle it, so budget that into your time as well (it’s also a good make-ahead stopping point). Make sure to taste this and keep tasting.
Toast the seeds!
I have a confession: I never really liked toasted seeds. I never really got them to turn out right. It turns out that I was making two mistakes: I didn’t dry them out enough and I was cooking them at too high a temperature. Getting them dry, cooking them in a low oven, and using flaky sea salt produces something delicious. Use them to garnish your soup, toss some in a salad, and snack away. Tasty, and an excellent way to reduce food waste!
There’s no getting around it. Even with a small squash, you’re going to be making a vat of soup. I suppose you could use half a squash if it’s just you, but I’ve never done that. Instead, I just usually freeze half of it and enjoy it later.
Make it your own
I developed this recipe by tinkering with it, and I’m sure you’ll improve on it by doing the same. It’s easily made vegetarian as my friend and I did when we made this, but I think it might lose something by going vegan (I’d be happily proven wrong here, but I’m a big believer in onions sweating in butter). A little heat would be good, and I may experiment with that when toasting the seeds next time I make this. I’d love to hear what you try!
Illustrated recipe and video below.
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
- Immersion blender is very helpful, but not absolutely required
For the Soup
- 1 small Butternut Squash, about 2 lbs try to find a squash with a long, thin neck, if possible
- 1 small yellow onion, sliced thickly
- 1.5 tbsp unsalted butter
- 4-6 cups chicken or vegetable stock bullion is fine, but use about half the amount recommended
- 2 sprigs parsley
- 1 sprig thyme
- 1 small bay leaf fresh, if you have them
- 4 sage leaves, torn add theses at the end
- ½ tsp apple cider vinegar
- kosher salt
- fresh ground pepper
- heavy cream drizzle per bowl, to garnish
For the Toasted Squash Seeds
- seeds from the squash, cleaned and dried see instructions
- drizzle olive oil
- pinch flaky sea salt
- Preheat oven to 400F
- Stab the squash all over with a fork (this is really important; otherwise, it can explode in your oven and make a total mess).
- Line a baking sheet with foil and place squash on it. Roast squash until it's soft, but not not mushy. You aren't cooking this all the way through with this step, but it's a good head start. How long this takes can vary according to the size and shape of the squash, but plan on it taking about 45 minutes to an hour. Turn it after 20 minutes, and give it a gentle squeeze. Start checking on it every 10 minutes after that. Remove from oven when squeezing the wide part (with a potholder!) has a good give.Make ahead: You can stop at this point and make the soup a few hours later, if necessary.
- When the squash is cool enough to handle, remove the skin from the squash (this should be pretty easy), scoop out the seeds, and cut up the squash into chunks. Reserve seeds if you're planning on toasting them.
Make the Soup
- In a heavy-bottomed pot with a lid (I use Le Creuset), melt the butter over low heat
- Add the onions, and mix to coat. Cover and sweat the onions until they are softened, checking on them to take care that they don't brown too much
- When the onions are softened, add the squash, and stir to coat.
- Add stock to cover (this will vary, in this batch, I used 5 cups). Add the parsley, thyme, and bay leaf and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper
- Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and continue to simmer until squash and onions are fully cooked. Taste the soup for seasoning and adjust
- Skim off any foam that's risen to the surface. Fish out the herbs
- Add torn sage leaves to the pot
- Puree with an immersion blender until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary
Toast the Seeds (optional, but really tasty)
- Preheat oven to 275
- Get all the squash off of the seeds (run them under cold water and then through a strainer at the end)
- Dry the seeds thoroughly, using strong paper towels (be careful, you can make quite a mess here).
- Add them to a foil lined baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with flaky sea salt
- Roast until golden, about 15 minutes (start checking after 10)
Serve the Soup
- To serve, reheat to a simmer. Garnish with a bit of cream and some toasted seeds.