The basic technique for this soup can be used with a wide range of winter squash and can take on a variety of different personalities depending on the spices you want to use. Roasting the squash, rather than cubing it and cooking it in the broth, concentrates the flavor, improves the texture and, maybe best of all, avoids the annoyance of having to peel the squash.
I give the basic recipe here using 1 medium kabocha squash and 1 medium butternut because that was what was in our CSA share this week. You can, however, use all kabocha (1 large or 2 smallish to medium), all butternut (2 large or 3 medium), or even acorn or buttercup (3 medium).
1 medium kabocha squash
1 medium butternut squash
2 T. olive oil plus more for brushing the roasting pan
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 quart low salt chicken stock (preferably very low sodium, if not reduce the added salt)
1½ t. kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper
up to 2 T. of honey if the squash is not sufficiently sweet to your taste
hulled pumpkin seeds for serving (if you can’t find hulled pumpkin seeds you can substitute hulled sunflower seeds, crispy crouton or skip the garnish altogether)
For curried squash soup: ½” piece of ginger, very finely minced or grated; ½ t. vindaloo spice mix (or ⅛ t. cayenne); and 2 t. garam masala (increase 2½ t. if using cayenne in place of vindaloo), ½ t. cumin, ¼ cup plain greek yogurt
For creamy squash soup: 1 t. ginger, very finely minced or grated; ¼ t. grated nutmeg; 3-4 T. half-and-half (whole milk or light or heavy cream can be substituted they will just affect the richness); and substitute butter for the 2 T. of olive oil and vegetable oil of any kind for the olive oil for the roasting pan.
For New England squash soup: 1 Granny Smith (or other tart) apple; 6-8 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped; substitute butter for the 2 T. of olive oil and vegetable oil for the oil for the roasting pan
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Line a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
- Cut each of the squash in half and remove the seeds. Lightly oil the cut side of the squash and the aluminum foil.
- Bake the squash cut side down for 30-45 minutes (depending on its thickness) until a knife easily pierces the flesh.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool until it can be handled.
- Scoop the flesh from the squash into a bowl and set aside.
- In a pot heat the 2 T. olive oil (or butter) over medium low heat. Add the diced onions (and the apples, if using) and sauté until the onion is almost translucent. Add the minced garlic (and the ginger, if using). When the garlic is fragrant add the vindaloo, garam masala, and cumin OR nutmeg OR sage leaves and saute, stirring constantly, for a few seconds. Add the salt and pepper.
- Add the chicken stock and cooked squash flesh and increase the heat to medium-high to bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes or so to fully combine the flavors. Remove from the heat.
- Carefully puree the soup in a blender (remove the clear plug in the top and cover with a paper towel to prevent blowing the top off) or with a stick blender.
- Return the soup to the pot and check for both sweetness (adding honey if needed), and salt and pepper.
- Reheat the soup to just below simmering and add the yogurt or half-and-half stirring to combine. Do not boil after the dairy is added.
- Serve topping with garnish of hulled pumpkin seeds.