Winter is fast approaching, and nothing tastes better in the cool weather than a warm bowl of soup. One of my family's winter favorites is Butternut Squash soup. Almost any type of squash can be used to make this soup. Generally I use Acorn or Butternut squash, however pumpkin makes a nice cold soup served Gazpacho style. Although the use of squash may be a little daunting to some, like all cream soups, this soup is delicious, inexpensive and the roasting process really makes it easy to prepare.
Soups are a great way to expand your culinary budget. We found the squash on sell at one of Wal-Mart's competitors for 77cents a pound, and a 1 pound bag of carrots were 2 for $1.00. My local Wal-Mart price matches so we saved a bundle. All the other ingredients I had I my pantry, so essentially I made 6 pints (12 cups) of soup chock full of vitamins and nutrients for less than 20 cents per serving if you factor in the butter and the half-in-half.
I prefer to roast my squash and other root vegetables as the roasting process not only accentuates their natural flavors, but all the natural sugars caramelize during roasting bringing out their sweetness. In addition, the roasting process is a whole lot less work than trying to peel and cube the squash before boiling it until it is soft enough to puree.
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
2 Butternut Squash, halved (about 4 pounds)
4 carrots, peeled
3 cups vegetable or chicken stock
¼ to ½ cup half-in-half
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon white pepper
- Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.
- Cut squash lengthwise and scoop out seeds and membrane with spoon, and place the squash cut side down in a shallow baking dish along with the carrots. Add enough water to the pan so that it about ½ inch up the side of the squash and place it in the preheated 375 degree oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the squash is soft and the flesh is easily removed with a spoon.
The peels went to the chickens!Scoop out the squash and place in a blender with the carrots and add enough chicken stock or water to puree the soup. I usually do this in batches of one half of a squash and two carrots, but your biggest determining factor will be your blender of food processor.
- Once the squash and carrots are purred, add them to a large stock pot and continue the process until you have purred all your vegetables.
- At this point your soup may well resemble purred vegetable more than soup. But have no fear, we are in the home stretch. Simply add water or chicken stock in small amounts to your stockpot to thin out the soup just until it coats the back of a spoon.
- To finish the soup, heat the soup on low heat until warm, then add the butter and half-in-half and stir with a wire whip or spoon until mixed thoroughly.
The great thing about this soup is that it lends itself to self expression rather well. Listed below are many of the variations I have and may make depending on the time of year. Some of my favorite variations include:
Savory - Saute 1 medium onion and 1 granny smith apple (peeled and cored) until the onions are translucent and the apple is soft, add 1 - 2 cloves of garlic and saute for an additional 30 to 40 seconds.
Curried - Substitute 1/2 cup plain yogurt for the butter and half-in-half, add 1 tablespoon curry powder, 1 teaspoon garlic ginger paste, and 1/2 teaspoon Garam Masala.
Thai - Substitute coconut milk for the half-in-half, saute 1 medium onion until translucent, then add 1 -2 teaspoons red curry paste to taste.
As mentioned, this recipe make about 6 to 7 pints and generally I pressure can 4 pints of soup each time I make this recipe. The important thing to note about canning this soup is that the FDA does not recommend the canning of soups with dairy products. Therefore, the large pan that contains the darker or is a more 'orange' color for lack of a better description does not have any butter or half-in-half added to it before canning. Rather, the butter and half-in-half are added to the soup once it is warmed up just before serving.