Main Dish · Soups and Salads

Butternut Squash Soup

One sure sign that cold has appeared on the horizon is that some heavy orange vegetables make appearance on the local scene of grocery stores and farmer’s markets. You thought of pumpkin of course, didn’t you? Pumpkin IS in fact an all time favorite and but there is this another mysterious smaller one with somewhat strange shape! First few times when I saw this stacked up in neat fashion, I ignored it thinking, here is yet another high starch vegetable which will just taste bland and have some un-interesting texture. But slowly I learned more about it and realized it’s in fact significantly less carbs than potatoes and a king vegetable if you want to dose up your vitamin A intake. It resides even higher than carrot’s alley for that..

Plus there is butter in its name.. And in winter that’s one simple and delicious way of creating great comfort foods. Well, but there isn’t much of “winter” in California. I really miss beautiful seasons and chilly but bustling with energy winters as many people go about their lives in Boston. This soup and that weather just go together perfectly.

So a week or so ago when it got pretty cold (by bay area standards) here and my husband was traveling, I seized the opportunity to give this underrated vegetable a try. Err, I will also tell you this- it may have helped somewhat that I had got these in my routine biweekly organic vegetable delivery box. That’s one nice aspect of getting this delivery- I am pushed to try things outside of things usually on my radar. But I digress. Back to, umm, butternut squash!

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Drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper, I first baked them well. They came out tender and smelling of roasted goodness. I wanted to just put spoon right through it and finish it off. Right there. On the baking sheet. Really, making soup is only possible if you can avoid the urge to eat it right there. Warm, sweet taste of it will surely tempt you to put soup on your future to-do list. Fight it though, for soup is worth it. Totally!!

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By now you must have known that I will want to add something to it to make it have a little lick. So, I used little chopped onion and ginger for enhanced flavor. Added some roasted sunflower seed and grated pepper-jack! It was real comforting eating this while watching Downton Abbey! I can almost see your eyes getting wider, I know I am waaay behind on this. Still catching up with it. I will get there soon, promise. But on the other hand, it turned out to be perfect- feeling warm and cozy, watching period drama. Ideal way to spend the weekday night, especially when it was a girl’s night alone.

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Give this vegetable a chance if you have been like me, ignoring it as you walk by. It has soo much goodness to offer, you will be amazed you didn’t fall for it sooner. The color, that creaminess and most importantly the sweet buttery taste will surely get you hooked. Don’t be afraid to venture outside your usual look of the fridge. Chances are- you will be happy that you did.

Your Map to Butternut Squash Soup

Author: Minty Chai

Inspired by: This Squash soup recipe, I used it mainly for roasting instructions with a few tweaks

Serves: 2

Total time: 1 hr 30 min

Ingredients

  1. 1 medium-sized butternut squash
  2. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  3. 1 teaspoon salt
  4. 1 teaspoon pepper
  5. 1/2 cup 2% milk
  6. 3/4 cup water (or more depending on desired soup consistency)
  7. 1/2 tablespoon oil
  8. 2 teaspoons turmeric powder
  9. 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  10. 1/2 inch ginger, finely chopped
  11. salt to taste
  12. 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds, roasted
  13. grated pepper jack cheese, for garnish
  14. cilantro for  garnish

Instructions

  1. Cut squash in half and drizzle both halves with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Preheat oven to 425 F and roast the squash for about 40 minutes. Or till it feels tender when pierced with knife.
  2. Take them out and let it cool enough that you could peel it by hand and remove the seeds. Mash it  together to form a paste. Add to it milk and water and use hand-held mixer to homogenize it.
  3. In a pan, heat the oil on medium heat. When oil gets sufficiently hot, add onion and ginger. Saute onion till it gets slightly translucent and add turmeric. Mix it together well and add the squash puree in. Add salt to taste, add some more pepper and turn the heat off after a few minutes.
  4. Let the soup cool off enough to blend it to make it smooth. Or use handheld mixer again to blend it all together to get smooth texture.
  5. Roast sunflower seeds on a medium hot pan for a couple of minutes.
  6. Serve hot in a bowl and garnish with sunflower seeds, grated pepper jack cheese and cilantro. Enjoy while it’s hot!

Notes and Tips

  1. You will notice, I didn’t use any vegetable or chicken stock here. You can use it if you prefer, but I found the soup flavorful and thick enough that I could use just water, some milk and be fine.
  2. I didn’t use any butter either, as it turned out; for the same reason mentioned above. It didn’t seem to call for it, so I didn’t bother. But you can add it by all means if you like. 1 tablespoon should do well.
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