The colors of this fall season glow throughout my neighborhood in shades of red, russet and gold, inspiring me to channel them into my cooking. During this season’s transition into cold weather I crave comfort food, mostly soup! Since the Farmers’ Markets are brimming with squash of all colors and shapes and I jump at the opportunity to try new varieties.
I do have a favorite, however, and it is the humble butternut squash. I love its creaminess and sweetness, its golden hue and versatility. I roast it, caramelize it, add chunks of it to soups and curries and even to chicken roasts. Our go-to recipe is my Butternut Squash Soup. It is creamy and hearty with a touch of heat. Since it has no added cream, or butter, it is also vegetarian and vegan. The trick is roasting the vegetables together in the oven on high heat, so they caramelize and create a depth of flavor and added creaminess.
So choose a beautiful hefty squash, some onions, garlic and fresh sage and get going! Don’t let the process of prepping the squash scare you! Here’s how you do it: Start by trimming the ends by slicing about ¼ of an inch off the bottom and the top, creating even surfaces. Then cut off the bottom-rounded portion, separating the neck from its wide bottom. Place the neck on its flat side (the tall way) and cut in half the long way and do the same with the bottom. Now you have 4 parts that are easy to handle and peel. Peel all parts and scoop the seeds out with a grapefruit spoon (serrated) or a regular one. Cut each portion into 1-2” cubes and place in a bowl. Now that your squash is prepped, you are ready to follow the recipe below. Of course, if you’d like to skip this step, plenty of stores offer pre-cut squash. This recipe works well with most varieties of pumpkins, even acorn squash and I have tried quite a few variations!
Serve the soup hot, with the croutons (recipe below) or for just a simple dinner with a sprinkle of paprika or cayenne, a slice of crusty bread and a side salad. Another option is to serve it in mugs for a crowd-pleasing, hand-warming appetizer.
*Soon to appear on SpiritedTable.com as well