By: Kathleen Neafsey
Butternut squash – I wait all year to make this soup. The squash is available year round, but there’s something about waiting till Autumn to enjoy this delicious treat. For a number of years now it’s been a family favorite as a Thanksgiving appetizer. While it can be filling, just a small bowl before dinner awakens your palate to the flavors of Fall.
The most difficult part of this recipe is cutting the squash! Fear not, you can purchase the squash at your local grocery store. It’s already cut into cubes, and ready to be cooked. You will, however, pay more for skipping a step; not to mention that you would have to buy several packages in order to equal what you would get from one whole squash. I will confess to having bought the already-cut squash, and truth be told, I prefer buying it whole and roasting it. The beauty of roasting it is that you really only have to make one cut, in half, lengthwise.
I found this big boy at the flea market at Englishtown, NJ. It was so big that I was carrying it around like an infant. To give you an idea of its’ size, I placed it next to my cup of tea for comparison.
First, let’s talk about the ingredients you’ll need; then I’ll tell you my simple method or getting the most out of your squash.
Obviously, butternut squash – about 4 pounds – or 2 medium squash
One tart apple, such as a Granny Smith; peeled, cored, and diced. I happened to only have a Red Delicious on hand when I made this; it will do in a pinch.
One medium onion, chopped
Two tablespoons of olive oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon of sage
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 1/2 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
2 1/2 cups water
1/3 cup half and half
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with foil.
Using a large, sturdy knife cut the squash in half lengthwise. Scape out the strings and seeds as you would if you were cutting a pumpkin at Halloween.
Next: Make some criss-cross cuts on the flesh of the squash, and rub one tablespoon of the olive oil on both halves of the squash.
Sprinkle both halves generously with the salt, pepper, and sage.
Place the baking sheet in the oven, and bake till fork tender – about one hour.
While the squash is baking in the oven, using a large pot, heat the other tablespoon of olive oil. Add the onion and apple, season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook on medium, stirring occasionally until tender – about five to seven minutes. Remove from burner and set aside.
When the squash is ready, remove it from the oven and place on a wire rack.
When it’s cool enough to handle, scoop out all the flesh and place it in the pot with the onion and apple. Stir to combine. Discard the skins.
Return the pot to the burner, add the broth and water, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and stirring occasionally, simmer for about 15 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and add the half and half.
Using a blender, or immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth. Taste, and add further seasonings if necessary. Ladle the soup into a bowl, and garnish with croutons if desired.
For me, this soup is a meal in itself so it doesn’t really need any accompaniment. That’s why I say if you’re serving it before a meal, a little bit goes a long way.
Wishing you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.
Kathleen’s Kitchen is a column running on Kate-book.com once a month. It is written by the amazing Kathleen Neafsey, who loves trying new recipes. Follow her on Twitter @dbmomkat.