I can’t believe it’s not butter!
It’s true! This post is not about butter…it’s about butternut…as in, the squash. What can I say? After the week of reckless abandon we’ve had here on the blog, I figured a slow transition out would be best so as not to go into withdrawal. I also thought I ought to send you off into the weekend with something a little lighter…like an actual meal. Don’t worry though – I wouldn’t want to disappoint those of you out there looking for a hat trick of butter posts – this recipe calls for a few tablespoons of the good stuff.
This dish comes to us from the kitchen of my sister, Mickie. When I went to visit her a few weeks back, she had this soup simmering on the stove top…and all it took was one spoonful for me to know that it was the best soup I’d ever had. Much to my chagrin, Mickie said she didn’t follow a recipe…she just “threw it together.” Perhaps I should have been impressed by her culinary prowess and amazing instincts, but I wasn’t. I was annoyed that I wouldn’t be able to recreate this at home.
So, I did what little sisters do best – I hounded her until she agreed to send me something in writing.
A day or two later, Mickie emailed me her messipe (mess + recipe). I’m not picking on Mick or being mean just for the sake of being mean, but I need you to know what I was working with. I kid you not – the first step in Mickie’s messipe instructed me to roast the butternut squash “until oozy and soft.”
Okay, ew. A recipe writer she is not. Time for some wordsmithing!
Let’s try this on for size instead – how about we roast the squash until it’s tender and starts to caramelize along the edges? Ah, much better! There may or may not be some of that aforementioned “ooziness,” but that’s better left unsaid.
Why do we roast? Well, it imparts a ton of flavor. Roasting develops the natural sugars in the squash, which allows it to reach its full potential. Roasting is infinitely better than just cubing up the squash and boiling it until it’s mushy. Been there, done that. Roasting is the way to go.
While you wait for your squash to cool, you’re going to chop up some carrots, onion and celery and saute everything in a large soup pot or dutch oven with some minced garlic.
Looks like we’re off to a good start!
Then, add in a bunch of minced sage. Fresh really is best here – especially since sage is the only spice we’re working with besides salt and pepper – so do yourself a favor and spend the extra couple bucks. It makes a BIG difference, folks. Invest in fresh.
After adding the sage, there are just a couple more steps until soup’s up! Remember those squash we roasted? Well, now that they’re cool, it’s a good time to scoop out the flesh and add it to the pot with the veggies and spices. It will take a little bit of elbow grease, but work to get it mashed in and incorporated with everything’s that’s already been cooking.
Next up, you’re going to add some liquid. The veggie broth comes first and it can stand a high temp, so now’s the time to bring everything to a boil. Then, turn the heat way down and pour in a little whole milk. Whole milk!? Yes…whole milk. We’ve done so much so far to make this soup taste great – like choosing the right cooking method and using the best ingredients – we might as well give it the creamy consistency it deserves! Long story short – save the skim for something else.
Last thing’s last – it’s time to puree! You could do this – carefully, of course – in a blender, but I’d recommend another route. Let’s take a timeout for a quick PSA.
Buy an immersion blender if you don’t already own one. Don’t be like me and put it off for years because you “really don’t need another appliance.” After all the whining I did, I ended up paying a whopping $12.99 for that fine piece of equipment you see above.
Don’t you just love a bargain?
Why, yes, Christmas Tree Shops…yes I do.
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Hands On Time: 30-45 minutes
Inactive Time: 60-90 minutes
2 butternut squash (2 1/2 – 3 lbs. each)
3 tablespoons butter
1 Vidalia onion
1 celery stalk
3 cloves garlic
A handful of fresh sage leaves
Salt & pepper, to taste
4 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups whole milk
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. While the oven is coming up to temp, pierce both squash all over with the tines of a fork and microwave each for three minutes. Carefully cut each squash lengthwise and scoop out and discard the seeds.
Drizzle or brush each squash half with olive oil and season with salt and pepper on the exposed sides. Place them cut side down (skin side up) on a foil lined baking dish or rimmed pan. Roast for 45 minutes or until the flesh is tender and the squash starts to caramelize along the edges.
Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, chop the veggies and mince the garlic and sage. Heat 3 tablespoons of butter in a soup pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add all of the chopped veggies to stir to coat with butter. Cook until soft and fragrant, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the minced garlic, stirring to combine and allowing to cook another minute or two. Sprinkle in the fresh sage, salt and pepper – stir once more to incorporate everything.
When the squash is cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh with a spoon and add it to the pot with the veggies. Stir to combine. Add vegetable broth and turn up the heat to bring everything to a boil. Once it starts to bubble, turn the heat back down and simmer 10 minutes (or more, depending on how much you’d like to develop the flavor). Turn heat off and add milk.
Process with an immersion blender directly in the pot or carefully transfer the soup to a traditional blender and puree in batches. Once a desired consistency is reached, heat the soup on medium low until everything is warmed through and serve.
This seriously makes a ton of soup, but it’s not one of those meals that makes for a daunting task.
You’ll look forward to leftovers.