Fall is officially upon us. This is, by far, my favorite time of year. The leaves start turning, the nights are cooler and I start craving delicious Autumn dishes. I have been making Butternut Squash Soup every Fall for years, and this one is no exception. Although our days have still been warm, my head was turned by a display of butternut squash at the entrance of Whole Foods the other day. So, of course, I had to buy one, and then went straight to the produce section to buy some ginger and leeks.
The recipe I use comes out of The Joy of Cooking. My book practically falls open to this recipe - that is how much I love it!
1 medium to large butternut squash
3 T unsalted butter or vegetable oil
2 large leeks, chopped (white part only)
4 tsp minced, peeled fresh ginger
6 C chicken or vegetable stock
1 1/2 tsp salt
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds. You can save the seeds for roasting, if you'd like. Drizzle a little oil on a baking sheet and bake the squash, face down, for an hour.
Mmm...your kitchen will be filled with the delicious aroma of roasted squash! Look at the beautiful color of the squash. It starts to caramelize, just a bit, adding a nice sweetness to the soup.
In a large pot, melt the butter or oil over medium to low heat. I usually use olive oil and I like to use my Staub Coq au Vin pot because it heats so evenly and can accommodate all of the ingredients nicely.
Now it is time to add the leeks and ginger. Cook for about 5 minutes until they are tender, but not browned. If you thought your kitchen smelled good when the squash was roasting, you are in for a real treat now.
Scoop the squash out of the skin and add it to the leeks and ginger. Add 4 cups of stock and stir well, breaking up the pieces of squash as you go. I like to use a low sodium vegetable stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Now it is time to puree your soup mixture. I remove the pot from the heat, and use an immersion blender to do this. I think this is the easiest way to go. However, if you don't have an immersion blender, you can use a regular blender and then return the pureed soup to the pot when you're done.
I'm not sure about the rules for using a traditional blender with hot liquids, so be careful!
Add the remaining 2 cups of stock and the salt, and stir well. The soup is now smooth and luxurious.
You can garnish your soup with chopped fresh parsley or cilantro, croutons or toasted squash seeds. I like to go with homemade croutons.
To make the croutons, cube some french bread, into pieces of approximately the same size. Drizzle with just a bit of olive oil, add some salt and fresh ground pepper and toss to coat. Spread the bread cubes onto a baking sheet. Pop them into a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through.
They come out gold brown and deliciously crunchy.
This soup is so incredibly flavorful, largely due to the leeks and ginger. Butternut squash soup makes a great meal on a crisp Fall night. Aside from tasting great, it's pretty darn healthy, with the bulk of the soup coming from veggies, so second helpings are encouraged and guilt-free!