Thursday, October 11, 2007

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

The soup library is running a little low these days. I have 3-4 soups lined up on my freezer shelf, but the one I wanted is all gone. I thought I had some left from last winter, but no such luck. Two recipes for butternut squash soup stand out amongst my recipes. This is one of them. This happens to be the more time consuming one to make. The other one, Butternut with Jalapeno, that I posted back in July, is a quicker soup because it's made with C&W frozen squash cubes. Nor is that one roasted, as in this case.

This recipe requires you to buy fresh butternut squash, because you roast the squash halves with onions, carrots and apples. So, no short cuts on this one. But, I guarantee you, you'll be pleased with the results, providing you have the time. I always make this in double quantity (8 pounds of squash to start with) because, well, why not? It's wonderful leftover and easy to freeze.

Previously I've mentioned Penzey's, the herb and spice company from whom I buy many of mine. If you order from them (or request it) they send out a catalog periodically, and usually there are 3-4 recipes contained in each little brochure. This came from one of those, a few years ago. Credit goes to a cookbook (that I don't have, in case you're counting) called The New England Cookbook, by Brooke Dojny. She's one smart cookie when it comes to soups.

So what's involved, you ask? You cut the squash in halves, remove seeds, lay them in a large roasting pan (a really big one if you're making a double batch) and add onions, apples and carrots and some fresh rosemary. Dot it with some butter, brown sugar and add a bunch of APPLE JUICE, cover and roast for about 2 hours. The vegetables become succulent, and somewhat sweet because of the apples and apple juice. Because I'd rather not peel the squash, I leave them unpeeled and scoop out the flesh after it's baked. Same with the onions - cut in half and remove skins later. The other little trick to this is the fresh rosemary. I do not like the rosemary to remain in the soup for eating, so I try to use a fresh sprig or two or three and leave them intact while baking, then toss it out, retrieving all the little pieces floating in the apple juice. Or, you can strain the whole mess to get them out.

Once the roasted vegetables have cooled a little (and you scoop out the squash flesh, remove onion skins, etc.), you can add it all to a large soup pot and use an immersion blender (or put it in batches in the regular blender or food processor) to puree all of it. Then you add a few other ingredients, taste it for seasonings, simmer briefly, then add milk (I use fat-free half and half) or cream to smooth it out.

If you don't like soups with a hint of sweet, pass this one by. But if you don't mind the sweeter flavor from the apples and apple juice, this one's a winner.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Recipe: Adapted from the New England Cookbook by Brooke Dojny
Servings: 4
4 pounds butternut squash -- or pumpkin
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 large onion -- peeled, chunked
3 large carrots -- peeled, chunked
4 large garlic cloves -- whole, unpeeled
1 large apple -- peeled, chunked
2 teaspoons dried rosemary -- or 1 T fresh
8 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 cups apple juice
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
1/4 cup pecans -- minced

salt and pepper
1 cup fat free half-and-half
1. Preheat your oven to 350. Cut the squash in half (I use a rubber mallet to pound the knife blade as the large squashes are usually quite unwieldy to cut). Scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Place the halves cut side up in a very large roasting pan. Divide the butter and brown sugar among the cavities. Arrange the onion, carrots, garlic and apple around the squash. Sprinkle with rosemary, then salt and pepper. Pour 2 cups of the chicken broth and apple juice around the vegetables and cover the pan tightly with foil. Roast in the preheated oven, stirring once or twice (if you remember, that is) until the vegetables are all very sort and somewhat caramelized, about 2 hours.
2. Open up the foil and allow the vegetables to cool at least 15 minutes. Scoop out the squash pulp, being careful not to include any skin. Remove the garlic from their skins. Process all the vegetables and apple mixture in a food processor, in batches if necessary, adding enough remaining chicken broth to achieve a smooth puree. Add the fat free half and half.
3. Toast the pecan pieces in the oven for a short time, or use a nonstick skillet. Don't burn! Set aside until ready to serve the soup. Transfer the puree to a large saucepan, add the ginger and mace and season with salt and pepper as needed. Bring the soup to a boil, under gentle heat and simmer for a few minutes to meld the spices. Serve the soup in bowls sprinkled with toasted pecans.

NOTES : The original recipe called for fresh pumpkin or squash, and used 6 Tb of butter. I preferred to have a creamy look to the soup, so add the fat-free half and half. It's not a necessary ingredient. When I make it, I always double it since it is such a favorite around our house. I just scoop it into plastic freezer bags in serving size portions (about 2 cups per person) and lie flat on a large cookie sheet until frozen solid. The original recipe also added a dollop of sour cream or creme fraiche, but I prefer the minced nuts. I prefer not to have the pieces of rosemary in the soup, so I strain the soup to remove most of it. Or, better yet, if you use fresh rosemary you can just remove the entire sprig. If you want to make the vegetable preparation easier, use a potato peeler on the squash before it's baked, and remove the garlic from its skins; if you do that, you don't have to handle the squash at all after it's baked.
Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 563 Calories; 11g Fat (17.3% calories from fat); 28g Protein; 94g Carbohydrate; 11g Dietary Fiber; 16mg Cholesterol; 1198mg Sodium. Exchanges: 3 Grain(Starch); 2 1/2 Lean Meat; 1 1/2 Vegetable; 1 Fruit; 1/2 Non-Fat Milk; 2 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates.
To print a PDF recipe, click title at top.
(photo from

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