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Savory, Spicy Squash Soup

November 12, 2010

Squash Soup, with croutons, of course

It was almost 5pm on Sunday night, as I was putting the finishing touches on the batch of soup for this week’s recipe. Nothing is terribly newsworthy about the exact timing, other than the fact that it was nearly dark. Dark. At 5pm.

It’s official. Winter’s coming. And although you might think I’d have gotten hip to the whole seasons thing, being 23 years of age, the first week of post-Daylight Savings Time is always a bit of a shock to my system. I can deal with (and even like) chilly temperatures that come with November weather, allowing the kind of novelty scarf wearing that proceeds the true winter chill-‐the stylish autumn ‘toss-around-the-neck’ vs. the ‘up-to-your-eyeballs,’ turtle fashion that sub-freezing temperatures necesitate. But when it comes to quickly shortening days, there’s no extra layer to put on, no scarf to tie tighter. Total darkness at 5:30? It’s a bummer.

That being said, it’s also soup season. And that, my friends, is not a bummer. For me, the blow of the whole early-darkness thing is pretty easily mitigated with a bisque or chowder, and if we’re broadening our scope to stews, a good beef daube or Cioppino. Along with a hunk of bread and some tasty cheese, I’m actually looking forward to hibernation.

To kick off soup season, and to get myself into Thanksgiving menu-planning mode, I’ve been working on this soup-‐a creamy, simple puree of roasted squash, stock, and a few other tasty flavorings. I’ve tried it with both acorn and butternut, and may give it another try with calabaza, but the basic ratio is this:

1 cup roasted squash : 1-1.5 cups of vegetable/chicken stock : onions, carrots & other flavorings

Puree these basic ingredients together, and you’re well on your way. But beyond changing up the type of winter squash, the ‘other flavorings’ department gives you plenty of room for variation and the chance to alter the finished product to your taste. In my version below, the red pepper flakes are optional, though they add nice contrast to the slightly sweet and highly savory flavors. I can easily see a place for ginger, or maybe a version with Thai red curry.

Soup Season Begins!

Savory, Spicy Squash Soup
This recipe yields about 8-10 cups, depending on the thickness you favor-‐plenty for a solid work week of lunches. I particularly like mine with a bit of whole milk yogurt swirled into the bowl just before serving. Croutons, as usual (pictured at top), work well too.

By scaling down the recipe, this would be a great use of post-Thanksgiving leftovers.

2 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion (1/2 a large onion)
1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
4 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
2-3 tbsp. walnuts
4 cups roasted squash**
1 tsp. sage
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
6 cups chicken/vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup cream

In large, heavy bottomed soup pot or dutch oven, heat the olive oil. Gently sweat the onions and carrots in the oil over medium low heat for about 10 minutes, or until soft. Continue cooking, allowing the onions/carrots to color slightly before adding the chopped garlic and walnuts. Cook briefly, allowing the walnuts to toast and the garlic to cook slightly. Add the roasted squash to the pot and stir to combine, then add red pepper flakes, dried sage, and finally, cover with 4 cups of stock. Simmer 30-40 minutes over medium-low heat, with lid partially ajar. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly before pureeing with a immersion blender or (very carefully!) in small batches in a blender. Add cream and adjust consistency with remaining stock. Season and serve.

**I usually halve the squash, rub with olive oil and bake on a sheet pan at 425 degrees F for 45-60 minutes or until completely tender. After allowing to cool slightly, I scoop out the flesh and proceed with the recipe. Alternatively, butternut can be cubed, tossed in olive oil and roasted at 425 on a sheet pan until tender, usually about a 20-30 minutes for 3/4 inch cubes. In my experience, 2 fairly standard acorn squashes yield about 4 cups roasted squash, or about 1 cup per half. Butternut squash sizes are a bit more variable, though one large one usually yields about 4 cups or so once roasted. If you end up with more/less, the consistency of the soup can easily be adapted with additional stock.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Peg Merzbacher permalink
    November 13, 2010 4:53 pm

    Love your writing! You sum up the pros and cons of our most recent change of seasons so eloquently:) Will have to try to make this soup tomorrow since I have an acorn squash handy.


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