If it seems weird to be talking about butternut squash soup in spring, believe me, I feel you. Only, the thing is, there was a spate of rainy, miserable days and I really wanted some soup, so, soup it was. Butternut squash soup is one of my favorites, and it comes together really quickly. Plus, if you use homemade stock, it's just that little extra bit of amazing.
The flavors in this soup pull together rich roasted vegetables, lots of umami from the stock, and a little extra zing from cayenne pepper. This is a recipe adapted from one my friend Jen brought to Thanksgiving last year -- by which I mean that she brought an amazing butternut squash soup and I tried to replicate it, because I was too lazy to ask for the recipe. (And if you prefer to get to the basics, you can hop to the bottom for the quick version of the recipe.)
Start by slicing your butternut squash in half lengthwise, scooping out the seeds, turning the halves face down in a roasting pan, adding a little water (to prevent burning), stabbing them a few times with a fork (to prevent explosions), and then roasting for around an hour at 375F. When you poke your squash, it should be nice and soft. Turn your squash halves out onto a cutting board to cool, and, seriously, don't be impatient -- let the damn things cool or you'll scald your fingers off when you scoop out the guts (which is what you're gonna do next).
Next, slice up a yellow onion and saute it in a stockpot until it softens and starts to brown. If you're super-committed, you can caramelize it, but I'm way too lazy for that. Add a quarter teaspoon each of salt, pepper, and cayenne. (You will probably be adjusting these seasonings later.) Stir for a few seconds, and then add the squash innards. Pour in two cups of stock.
If you have a big squash, there might not be quite enough liquid. You may also prefer a slightly thinner soup. In either case, add another half cup of stock or more as needed. Cook the mixture on medium-low to allow the squash to break up a bit more and to encourage the flavors to fuse with each other.
Next, use an immersion blender to render the soup creamy, with no lumps or chunks. I am not normally a fan of single-use items or fancy food processing activities, but I must confess that I have been won over to the dark side of the immersion blender and all that it offers. Seriously dude, they're cheap, and they are so handy for soup. For this soup, the blending makes everything creamier and more delicious somehow, and it's really worth it. (If you can't/seriously don't want to do it, it's not the end of the world. Obviously people ate soup for millions of years without immersion blenders.)
Keep your soup at the simmer and slowly stir in one half cup cream. I've used coconut milk for a veganized/dairy-free version, which works very well. Cook for just a bit longer, to allow the creamy flavor to infuse, taste and adjust seasonings to suit, and then serve! You can store the soup for up to five days in the fridge, or send it to freezertown to eat later -- like, say, when a sudden rainy day creeps up on you.
tl;dr version of this recipe:
In a large soup pot or stockpot, combine:
- One yellow onion, sliced and sauteed
- Innards of one butternut squash, roasted
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Cook together briefly to allow the flavors to infuse before adding two cups of stock. Cook for another 10 minutes before blending with an immersion blender. Return to medium-low heat, stir in 1/2 cup cream, and allow to cook for another 10 minutes before testing the seasoning, adjusting if necessary, and serving.
Roasted butternut squash seeds, fried onion shavings, sprouts, and toasted coconut all make great toppings, if you want to get all froufrou about it.