I have to admit, I don’t really like eating squash. I generally don’t even like squash soup. I like how squash looks, I like that it’s a very seasonal food, and I like to think that there will be more and more times that I actually enjoy eating squash in the future — there have been a few times in the past, and it’s almost always when prepared in a savory way. Hold the cinnamon and sweet spices on my squash — no thank you! We’ll make this soup savory.
As I was drawn to the squash section at the pumpkin patch, I knew that I would be purchasing a few. But I worried that they would sit on my counter for too long or that I would hesitate to try and figure out a satisfying way to prepare them out of fear that I might not be able to do it. I wanted to do it. I personally have never cooked with a butternut squash before but I wanted to try making my own style of the ever so popular soup so I picked up a couple of them first. There were several other piles of squash asking me to take them home but I had to limit myself. I didn’t know what I would do with most of them so I decided to pick up a few acorn squash and was on my way.
The butternut squash did not sit around for long, though it did take a full week of dragging my feet before I actually made it. I’m glad I did though; it was surprisingly easy to make and the soup turned out amazing — slightly sweet from the natural flavor of the butternut squash but prepared to be savory with a bit of spice, just the way I like it. I will definitely be making this again.
Ingredients: butternut squash with seeds, vegetable stock, ginger, chili garlic paste, cumin powder, chili powder, sour cream, olive oil, salt, pepper powder.
You can use your favorite vegetable stock for the base of the soup. I used a homemade stock. Making a vegetable stock is not an exact science and I wouldn’t call myself an expert, but if you’re interested in how I made mine for this soup, you can find out how at the bottom of the post.
Measurements : serves 4
2 butternut squash
4-6 cups of vegetable stock
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1/2 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne or pepper powder
1 cup sour cream
salt to taste
toasted squash seeds with oil, salt, and spice.
Preheat oven to 400°
Cut your butternut squash in half before roasting; I quartered mine. Scoop out seeds & guts, set aside for later. Place your squash pieces on a roasting pan flesh up and brush with butter. Roast until tender, about 20 minutes — just enough to be able to easily remove the meat from the skin, it will cook more in the soup. Once it’s roasted remove from the oven and allow it to cool enough to be handled before chopping it up. I used a pairing knife to remove the skin and chop it into pieces. If you halve the squash and the flesh is soft enough you can scoop it out with a spoon or melonballer. I also have read that you can use a peeler to remove the skin.
Heat your soup pot with a splash of oil over medium heat, add the minced ginger and then the chili garlic sauce, saute for a moment. Add squash pieces and vegetable stock. We used 4 cups of stock, our soup was really thick but nice & smooth. You may want to add more stock if you have particularly large squash or if you prefer it to be a thinner soup. You can always add more once it’s pureed to change the consistency. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat, bringing it back to a simmer. Add ground cumin and cayenne powder. We used our pepper powder because it was freshly made days before; I think any chili spice would work well — of course adjust the heat according to how spicy you like it. Add a small amount and adjust after the soup is blended if you’re not sure how hot the spice will be.
Allow soup to simmer with spices until everything is thoroughly cooked. Meanwhile, clean and strain your squash seeds.
Puree the soup until smooth. We used an immersion blender to puree it right in the soup pot. A regular blender would work as well. Allow it to simmer and blend it some more until it is completely smooth. Then stir or blend in the sour cream. Taste and adjust flavor to your liking. You might want to make it a little spicier. We didn’t add any salt, but you might need to depending on the vegetable stock used. Keep soup on low heat before serving while you toast the seeds.
In a small pan heat a splash of olive oil, sprinkle cayenne pepper, salt, and add seeds. Stir and flip until sufficiently toasted. Pour soup into bowls and top with toasted squash seeds. Keep extra on the table to reload this tasty garnish ;)
Making the vegetable stock::
I used about 12 cups of water to start which gave me about 8 cups of broth after it boiled down. I made more than we needed for this soup so I could freeze the other half for the next soup.
First chop and prepare your ingredients. Because this is a broth you won’t need to cut them very finely or make them look a certain way. You can use almost any vegetables you have but generally “onion,” carrot, and celery make a good broth base. Of course I don’t use onion in my stock however I did use garlic. This is what went into my stock: 2 cups celery chopped, 2 cups carrot chopped, 8 cloves garlic smashed with the back of the knife, 2 bay leaves, 2 teaspoons table salt, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 15 peppercorns, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, and 1/2 inch galangal sliced. Galangal looks a lot like ginger but tastes very different — I added it to my stock pot because I enjoy the spice it gives and I had it. I wasn’t sure how powerful it would be in a stock so I used a small amount this time. You can use just about any vegetables you have on hand; it’s fun to experiment.
Bring the stock to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about an hour. Taste and adjust salt level; I add small amounts of soy sauce until it’s how I want it. Remove from heat and strain and squeeze all of the liquid from the vegetables. Your stock is made! Now make soup!
note: the buddha bowl in the first picture can be found here : Flavour Design