Eeek! My first recipe post. Are you as I excited as I am?!? Here it goes….
So, first I have to admit that my favorite season is not fall. GASP! I know, I know, many of you are seriously disappointed in me already, but it is my truest desire to always be honest with you. Over the years, at the convincing of some fall-loving friends, I’ve begrudgingly come to appreciate a cozy sweater, but straight-up I am a summer child. Born in August, I love hot, hot weather. I love long, sunny days and warm, starry nights; and flip flops – I love flip flops. I’d much rather be sweating than freezing, and I strongly dislike bundling up in layers of thick clothing only to still shiver to the bone. Winter is hard. Summer is easy. Can I get an “Amen”?
All that being said, I know that life is too short and seasons come and go too quickly to spend time brooding about imperfect weather. Until I decide to move to California anyway, I’m gonna have to get on board. One way I do that is through food, and getting myself excited for some of my favorite fall and winter ingredients. Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, and winter squash help get me pumped for chillier temps, as does gettin’ cozy with a warm bowl of soup, like this recipe for Butternut Squash Soup. I definitely find it impossible to be mad about fall when I’m eating this deliciousness!
So easy, and less than four ingredients, my method takes the hassle out of cooking with butternut squash, which after peeling, scooping the seeds and cutting the bulbous gourd into cubes, can so often become more of a pain than a pleasure. In this recipe, I simply cut the squash in quarters and roast flesh side down until super tender. Then, I puree the softened insides with apple cider (another yay for fall!) and some stock or water until I get the desired thinness and texture. Season with a little salt and pepper, and there you have it….one of the easiest and most-craveable cold-weather soups!
You’ll see below that I am actually roasting two squash. I always figure that if I’m going to make soup, I may as well make a big batch so I can eat some now and freeze some for later. This batch made about 8 cups of finished soup. What you can’t see here, is that I DID NOT scoop out the seeds before roasting. They are still inside the squash. I soooo prefer this method because the seeds will scoop out so much more easily after cooking.
PSA: You may also notice my big ‘ol cleaver knife….I don’t normally suggest this as a must-have knife for all kitchens, but if you happen to cut up a lot of squash or watermelon, it really is the best knife for the job.
Squash still takes a solid 40 minutes to an hour to cook, but it’s inactive waiting time which is the best kind of cooking. To test the squash for doneness, just stick a fork in it! The fork should pierce through the skin easily, in both the bulbous bottom half and the solid top half.
After roasting, I use a large spoon to scoop the flesh out of the skin and drop it directly into a food processor. Depending on the size your food processor, you will likely have to puree in two batches. As you puree, pour apple cider and stock (or water) through the top, then let the motor run until you get a smooth consistency. You can make the soup as thick or thin as you like. Finish by seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
One great finishing touch, if you have it on hand and don’t mind the extra calories, is to finish with 2-4 tablespoons of heavy cream. I mean, just saying, it adds a nice layer of creamy richness, you know, like if you’re into that kinda thing.
Now, lastly, about that beautiful garnish! This is really where your soup becomes customizable, so I’ll tell you what I did, but feel free to put your own fun spin on it.
First, I love a cool dollop of sour cream on pretty much any soup or chili, so I thinned out some sour cream with more of that delish apple cider until it was drizzle-able. (That’s a word, right?) and then I drizzled it all around the top. Next, I wanted some crunch ‘cuz every dish needs texture. In this case, I made croutons out of some homemade focaccia I had on hand. You can do this by toasting cubed bread in olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat just until golden brown and crisp. It takes about 5 minutes, and they taste so much better than store bought. I also sprinkled some smoked paprika across the top to add a savory element, and a little chopped parsley. All these little toppers add color, texture and flavor to really round out this bowl of goodness.
Other garnishing options could include toasted almonds or pepitas, yogurt, ground cinnamon, chopped cilantro or chives, crushed beet chips, or pita bread on the side. Get creative! And whether you are a fan of fall, or are already missing summer, I hope this soup gets you pumped up for cozy sweaters.
Cozy up to this warm recipe for butternut squash soup. With just 5 required ingredients this simple recipe is sure to get you excited for colder seasons.
- 2 large butternut squash
- 2 cups apple cider
- 1 cup chicken stock, vegetable stock or water
- kosher salt, to taste
- black pepper, to taste
- 2-4 tablespoons heavy cream, optional
- 4 tablespoons sour cream
- 1-2 tablespoons apple cider (to taste)
- croutons, optional
- smoked paprika, optional
- chopped parsley, optional
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
- Cut the squash in half down the middle. Then, stand each half on the flat end and cut down the middle again. Place cut-side down on a sheet pan.
- Place squash in the pre-heated oven and roast until fork-tender, anywhere from 40 minutes to 1 hour. Check for doneness by stabbing the squash with a fork both in one big bulbous end and one of the neck ends. Fork should pierce the squash very easily.
- Remove tender squash from the oven, use a spatula or tongs to flip each piece, then let squash cool slightly, just until it’s easier to handle.
- In the mean time, make your apple cider cream. Scoop sour cream into a small bowl, add 1 tablespoon of apple cider and stir until well combined. Check taste and consistency. If you want it more sweet or more drizzle-able, add a little more cider.
- For homemade croutons, add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil into a saute pan. Warm over medium-high heat, then toss in cubed bread. Season with salt and pepper, then toss to coat with the oil. Cook until bread is golden and crispy, tossing or stirring every minute or so to prevent burning. Once done, transfer to a clean dish.
- Once squash is cool enough to handle, use a large spoon to scoop the insides into a food processor. Work in batches, adding about the half the squash. As you scoop out the flesh, you can remove the seeds too. You can save these to toast like pumpkin seeds, if desired.
- Turn on the food processor and as the squash purees pour in apple cider and stock (or water) through the top. Season with salt and pepper, then stop the machine and check for taste and texture. Is the soup smooth enough? Is it thinned out enough? You can turn on the food processor and add more liquid as necessary to get your desired end result. The quantities in the ingredient list are guides, but the true amount necessary will depend on the amount of flesh you get out of your squash and your own personal taste.
- As you finish the first batch, transfer soup to a pot and set over medium-low heat to keep warm while you puree the next batch. Add the next batch and stir until hot again. Ladle soup into bowls, top with apple cider cream and toasted croutons or other preferred garnishes. Serve warm, or refrigerate for later! Also great for freezing.
- Recipe is intentionally written for leftovers. Perfect for freezing! You can easily cut the recipe in half.