The weather has started to get a little more Fall-like around here the last few days so I had planned to make a couple of soups this week to fit the occasion. Soups make a great dinner because they are filling, delicious and nutritious all in one. I had bought a butternut squash at our friend’s farmstand this past weekend and then I found this great recipe from Michael Chiarello for a different butternut squash soup recipe than I had made before. It makes use of some different spices to give a different flavor and roasting the squash with some of these ingredients really added something to the meal.
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
For the Toasted Spice Rub:
1/4 cup fennel seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon peppercorns
1 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1/4 cup chili powder
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
For the Roasted Squash:
3 pounds butternut squash (about 1 large squash)
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage leaves
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup dark molasses
2 teaspoons Toasted Spice Rub
For the Soup:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup diced onion
1/4 cup diced celery
1/4 cup diced carrot
1 cinnamon stick
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups Roasted Winter Squash
1/2 cup half-and-half
For the spice rub: Toast the fennel seeds, coriander seeds and peppercorns in a small, heavy pan over medium heat. When the fennel turns light brown, turn on the exhaust fan above your stove, add the red pepper flakes and toss the mixture vigorously. Immediately turn the mixture out into a bowl to cool.
When the mixture has cooled, place it in a blender or spice mill with the chili powder, salt and cinnamon and blend until all the spices are evenly ground. Keep the spice mix in a glass jar in a cool, dry place.
For the squash: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Peel the squash with a vegetable peeler, halve lengthwise and discard any of the seeds. Cut the squash into 1-inch diced pieces. Place the squash in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper.
Heat the butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter stops foaming and has turned a light brown, pull the pan off the heat and add the sage, sugar, vinegar (keep your face back when you add the vinegar), molasses and the toasted spice rub. Mix well and allow it to simmer over medium-low heat for 1 to 2 minutes to meld the flavors.
Pour the vinegar mixture over the squash and toss well. Transfer the squash to a heavy, rimmed baking sheet or baking dish large enough to hold the squash in a single layer. Place the squash in the oven and roast, tossing at least once, until it is very tender and caramelized, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Set the squash aside until it is cool enough to handle but still warm, so the liquids are still runny.
Working in batches, if necessary, transfer the warm squash and all the cooking liquids to a food processor and process until the mixture is smooth. You can use the squash immediately or refrigerate it for up to 5 days or freeze it for up to 2 months.
For the soup: Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until hot. Add the onion, celery, carrot and cinnamon stick and saute until the vegetables are soft but not brown, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the chicken or vegetable stock and bring the mixture to a boil. Simmer for several minutes. Stir in the squash until it is smooth, then simmer gently, allowing the flavors to meld, about 10 minutes. Discard the cinnamon stick.
Puree the soup in a blender, in batches if necessary, until it is smooth. Return the soup to the pan and re-heat it gently. Add the half-and-half and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm until you are ready to serve.
A couple of things about this recipe. The toasted spice rub makes quite a bit of spice mix. If you think you will use it again later on, it’s great to have on hand. I cut the recipe in half and still had plenty leftover so you can do that if you don’t want a lot of spice mix. You can use the squash puree for other things as well if you didn’t want to make soup with it. I think it would be a great side dish for chicken or turkey just as it is. You could also use other winter squash if you prefer, like acorn squash, and I think it would do just as well. The soup itself has a very roasted, toasty flavor to it. You can certainly taste the spices coming through in the soup but they do not over power the dish at all. I loved the creaminess of the squash and found it to be a very hearty meal. If you use vegetable stock or water instead of the chicken stock, you can make this a vegetarian meal.
That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another soup recipe I just tried. This one was made in the slow cooker and can also be a vegetarian dish, so check back for that one tomorrow. Until next time, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!