Monday, September 26, 2011

Butternut Squash Soup

Did you know that autumn is my favorite season? I love the crisp air, cozy sweaters, and hearty foods. I start lighting candles that smell too strong and give the husband headaches. I feel all nest-y and start cleaning my house. It's the best. Well, except for the headaches. Poor husband.

Winter squash is one of the many other reasons I love fall. I think I've mentioned my sweet tooth a time or two on HDHH. Squash is a vegetable (read: healthy, chock full of vitamins), but it tastes like candy (read: sweet, delicious, wonderful.) I swoon just thinking about it.

To kick off the first day of fall last week, I made Roast Butternut Squash Soup with Jill and Kelly. With it's creamy texture and rich orange hue, it was the perfect way to start the season. This soup is more savory than other butternut squash soups I've had in the past, and it's flavor made me think about an upcoming fall favorite, Thanksgiving.

Make plenty extra because it reheats well for lunch the next day. Everyone in your lunch room will be jealous.

Three cheers for fall!

Butternut Squash Soup
Serves: 6-8

1 butternut squash (about 3 pounds)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
1 onion, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and diced
1/4 cup white wine
2 bay leaves
2-3 cups vegetable broth

The first step is roasting the squash. I'll give you a few methods, and you can pick your favorite depending on how much time you have and how strong your aversion to slicing raw butternut squash is. These techniques are from the trustworthy tome Joy of Cooking.

Roasting Whole Butternut Squash
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pierce the squash with a knife in 4-5 places so it doesn't explode. Place squash in a baking dish (so it doesn't ooze it's sugary juices all over your oven and create a sticky, stinky mess) and bake until the flesh is tender when pierced with a knife. Since butternut squash is large, it will take about an hour and a half to cook. Once it's cooked, cut squash in half and scoop out the seeds and strings.

Roasting Pieces of Butternut Squash
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut squash in half and scoop out the seeds and strings. Place cut side down on a rimmed baking sheet. Add 1/4" water to the pan and cover with aluminum foil. Bake until flesh is tender when pierced with a knife, 45 minutes - 1 hour.

While your squash is roasting, add olive oil to a large soup pot over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, onion, and garlic. Saute until vegetables are tender and golden, about 10 minutes. Pour in wine and stir, scraping the bottom to deglaze the pot.

Scoop squash out of the skin and add to the soup pot. Add vegetable broth just to cover and stir in bay leaves. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.

Remove bay leaves and puree the soup using an immersion blender. If you don't have an immersion blender,  puree the soup in batches in your blender. (Then add an immersion blender to your Christmas list!) If the soup is too thick, slowly add more broth until it reaches the desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Plan-Ahead Tip: Roasting butternut squash takes a long time, but it's totally hands-off. Roast squash the day ahead or while your kiddos are taking a nap, and dinner will be ready in moments!

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