One of my all time favorite soups is roasted butternut squach soup. I love when I see the butternut squash start to appear at the public market because it means the weather is really getting cold and it’ll be time to make this soup soon. I was so excited to find this month’s Recipe to Rivals challenge (picked by MegPug of Joy Through Cooking) was all about squash soup using home made stock. I also have been looking to try my hand a stock since watching past episodes of Alton Brown on YouTube.
The recipe I’ve always used comes from the magazing Eating Well and it’s very simple:
– roast squash, pears, tomatoes, leeks, and garlic into oblivion
– blend with stock/broth
– season with salt, pepper, nutmeg, and cinnamon, or whatever spices you fancy
– serve with crusty bread and consume.
Ok, I’ll be honest. I forgot about the creme fraiche (one of the requirements to the recipe). I don’t really like it, and I also don’t find much occasion to use whipping cream, so I didn’t buy any of that to add either. However, I have a diary based suggestion that I’ve used in the past: Stilton. Yes, the stinky cheese. The recipe from Eating Well called for a little Stilton sprinkled on top. I suggest looking for a milder Stilton, but it does give a lovely flavor to the soup that works surprisingly well with the soups sweetness. I also like to add a kind of garlic crouton (really, it’s just crusty piece of toast with some garlic rubbed on and a drizzle of olive oil; crusty sourdough loaves work great). The crunch of toast contrasts the smooth soup wonderfully.
Here is the Eating Well recipe as I remember it (I’m typing this at my parents (home for the holidays), and the recipe is at home in another state). It’s a pretty flexible recipe, so I’m not too concerned about amounts:
– One butternut squash, cubed
– 4 medium tomatoes, quartered and seeded
– 2 bosc pears, pealed, quartered and cored
– 1-2 leeks, rinsed well and sliced
– 4 cloves of garlic
– 4-6 cups of stock
– salt and pepper
– olive oil
– seasoning as desired at the end (I suggest nutmeg and cinnamon, true fall flavors)
1. Preheat the oven to 400 or 450.
2. Put the squash, tomato, pears, leeks, and garlic on a cookie sheet with high sides or a large baking dish. Everything should cover the bottom of your pan, but not pile too high because it will take longer to roast.
3. Drizzle to coat with olive oil and season liberally with salt. Toss everything together
4. Roast everything to oblivion (1-2 hours), stirring every 10-20 minutes. I’m serious, oblivion. It should reduce to about half the volume and the squash should be browning around the edges. Everything should be falling apart into mush. The longer it goes, the more the sugars in the squash caramelize and make a sweet soup. You will not be sorry if you over roast everything… just take it out before things begin to char.
5. Blend with the stock, using as much as necessary to get the desired consistency. I use my stand up blender and scoop some of the roasted mush in, and then fill to the level of veggies with stock. Hold the lid down FIRMLY with a pot holder. Be careful hear or you’ll get 400 degree mush all over your kitchen and yourself. Blend until a cyclone forms in the blender. You also can put the stock and roasted mush into a pot and use an immersion blender.
6. Pour the blended soup into a pot (if it’s not already in one), reheat and season to taste.
7. Garnish with a nice Stilton and serve with toasted sourdough rubbed with garlic
For the stock, I used the recipe provided by MegPug:
4 quarts water
2 white onions
4 carrots, peeled
6-8 button mushrooms
Bouquet garnish (parsley, bay leaves, peppercorns)
Boil the hell out of it and strain through a fine seive or cheesecloth.