Poppy and I seem to be smitten with squash these days. So be it. It’s in harmony with blazing fall colors, with cool weather, and it is truly luscious in texture and taste.
This can be a soup or a purée for the Thanksgiving table. You could say the recipe is ‘forgiving’, or you could say ‘accommodating’. Easy to make, and easy to make it your own by adding more or less of what is appealing to you, after the squash, of course, which is the star. Its color and seasonality cannot be denied and it will shine in any bowl, on any table.
Squash Soup or Purée Recipe
*There are several ways to make this recipe your own.
Directions: This is pretty standard procedure for making the base of many squash soups. Peel and cut a Butternut squash into large cubes. Any winter squash will do. Place 6 cups of squash, give or take, on a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet, sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast at 375 for approximately 30/35 minutes. Should be fork tender.
While squash is roasting sauté 1 finely diced onion, and 1/2 teaspoon finely diced jalapeño pepper on medium heat until tender, about 10 minutes. Add 1 peeled and diced Yukon potato, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 cup water. Cook covered for 5 minutes. Uncover, stir together and cook until potatoes are tender.
Allow the squash and onion/potato mixtures to cool slightly. Then place all ingredients in a food processor or in a hefty blender (or process in smaller batches). Add 2 1/2 cups milk and process until smooth. This might be about enough milk to make a creamy purée. If so, stop here, or add more liquid as needed. For soup, add at least one more cup of milk (or broth) and process again. Return soup to pan, reheat and add more liquid as needed, possibly 2 – 3 cups, maybe more depending on the squash and personal choice. Adjust salt seasoning, add freshly ground pepper.
Whether it’s a purée or soup, finish this with dollops of sour cream or crème fraiche and a good pinch of ground chipotle pepper or paprika. If you have dried Ancho peppers on hand, grind in a coffee grinder and use as a flavor garnish before serving.
*Change it. Use vegetable or chicken broth instead of milk. Eliminate the jalapeño and use a small amount of chipotle powder, cumin or curry instead. Use shallot instead of onion. Add garlic. Sauté a cubed apple along with or instead of the potato. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds before serving. Sprinkle soup or purée with drops of chipotle oil before serving instead of sour cream. Stir 1/2 – 1 teaspoon chipotle powder into 1/4 cup olive oil. Heat and stir until chili powder is mostly dissolved. Let sit for at least 30 minutes, pour seasoned oil through a fine sieve to remove grains of chipotle, perhaps strain again and then pour into a small container for later use. The oil will be spicy and light red. Drizzle or drip on top of each bowl of soup just before serving. More if you can take the heat.
Autumn is a luscious time when you stop and think about it. If we’re lucky we spend at least some time camped out with a book, a movie, wrapped in a sweater, sunsets ablaze, sometimes an enormous moon, candlelight and comfort food. Let the autumnal vibe and some soup feed your soul.