Our squash crop did amazingly well this year. So well, that it took over about a third of our vegetable plot in the backyard, and I had to keep moving the vines so they wouldn’t take over their poor neighboring vegetables. Alas, the frost has ended the season of the squash growing, but hooray, our crawlspace is now full of tasty huge squashes each averaging about five pounds in weight. Woo!
This means, of course, that soup has been and will continue to be in our fall and winter food repertoire. This also means that you, friends, get the recipe for said soup. I like to change up which herbs and liquids I use, but the method is pretty much the same: cut squash, add enough liquid in the cooking vessel to cover the squash by about an inch, add herbs, soften, puree, cream, and season to taste. I like using a combination of stock, water, and mild beer for depth of flavor, and a little sugar in the process brings out the sweetness of the squash without making the soup actually sweet. You can also experiment with other winter squashes – I’ve had success with pumpkin here, too, and I’d like to try other combinations of herbs and squashes in the future.
The method is hands-off for a good portion of the time, and makes a lot of soup if you’re using big vegetables. (Did I mention it freezes well? Because it does.) You can also halve the recipe if your squashes are smaller than five pounds (which they probably are). This soup goes fabulously with some freshly-baked bread, crackers, and/or a tasty sandwich. It’s fall, y’all. And it’s time to get comfy.
Ready to get your cozy on? Let’s soup.
Butternut Squash Soup
You can use smaller or larger amounts of squash – just remember to increase or decrease the liquid enough to just cover the cut veggies, and season accordingly. As usual, I go big or go home: this recipe makes about 3-4 quarts of soup.
You will need:
- 1 large butternut squash (4-5 pounds), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 4-5 c stock (vegetable, beef, chicken, or a combination)
- 1 c mild beer, such as a Hefeweizen (do not use bitter or dark beers here, like IPAs or stouts, lest ye end up with a weird, bitter soup) (optional)
- 1-2 c water, plus more if not using beer
- 2-3 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper, plus more to taste
- 1-2 tbsp demerara or brown sugar
- 1/4 c sage, cut into ribbons
- 1/4 c fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 c heavy cream, half and half, or whole milk
- Place chopped squash, 2 tsp salt, pepper, and sage into a 6-quart stockpot or Dutch oven, and add enough stock, water, and beer to cover the squash by about 1 inch. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat, then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the squash is tender, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat.
- If using an immersion blender: Blend the liquid and squash in the pot until smooth. If using a conventional blender: Allow the mixture to cool for about 5 minutes. In batches that fill up no more than half of the blender cup at a time, blend the liquid and squash until smooth. Make sure you leave the vent cap off of the blender to release steam, and use a towel over the hole – otherwise, you risk a literal explosion of hot soup. Not tasty or fun.
- Return the soup to medium heat. Stir in 1 tbsp of the sugar sugar and cream, and allow the soup to return to a simmer. Taste the soup, and add more sugar, salt and pepper to taste if desired. Add the chopped parsley in the last 5 minutes or so of cooking. Serve immediately, garnishing with more sage and/or parsley if desired.
- Vegan Butternut Squash Soup: Use vegetable stock for the liquid, and use full-fat coconut milk for the cream.
- Spicy Pumpkin Soup: Use pumpkin for the squash. Add 1/2 tsp cardamom, 1 tsp ginger, and 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper to Step 1, and increase the black pepper to 1/2 tsp. Yes, this is spicy. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.