I am looking out at my back yard on an absolutely glorious day here in Chicago and thinking “How could anyone not love Fall”? Beautiful leaves, a bit of chill in the air and yet still warming sun. Apples, cider, pumpkins and squash. And soup! And squash soup!
If you’ve been anywhere near Pinterest or thumbing through the pages of food magazines, you’ve undoubtedly come across many recipes for and variations of squash soup. No surprise here, as winter squashes are infinitely versatile, at home in both the savory world (think curried squash soup) and the sweet (think pumpkin pie). This recipe, which I will say is my all time favorite, straddles both worlds with a blend of sultry spices traditionally found in pie recipes:
It also calls for a trio of winter squashes, each adding a unique texture and flavor to the soup, including one that may be new to some of you: Kabocha Squash. Epicurious online describes kabocha as “The New Squash” in a recent article. This may be the first time I am actually ahead of the trend!
The most challenging part of any recipe which calls for winter squash is, of course, is cutting the squash in half (check out this article from The Kitchn for tips on how to accomplish this task safely and effectively). But once you’ve managed this labor of love, the rest of the soup prep is a breeze! Just season and steam roast in the oven, sauté some onions and simmer everything together with chicken stock and the spices, then take the whole thing for a spin in the food processor along with a little cream.
Last, comes the fun part with soup: the garnish. I love the original recipe’s call for adding some of the pie spices to crème fraiche and swirling it in. Toasted bread croutons are another possibility, although I tend to like the simplicity of fresh chives. This recipes yields quite a bit so unless you’re feeding the masses, plan on leftovers you can bring to the office for lunch and make your co-workers insanely jealous! Remember too that squash based soups tend to thicken, so feel free to add a little chicken stock or water before reheating.
Roasted Squash Soup with Pie Spices *
- 1 small kabocha squash (about 3 1/2 lbs) – halved and seeded
- 1 medium butternut squash (about 2 lbs) – halved and seeded
- 1 medium acorn squash (about 1 1/2 lbs) – halved and seeded
- 2 cups water
- 4 TBS unsalted butter
- 1 white onion, thinly sliced
- 1/4 tsp cardamom
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves
- 1/8 tsp ground ginger
- Salt and coarsely ground black pepper
- 5 cups low sodium chicken stock
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 8-oz. container crème fraiche (or sour cream)
Preheat oven to 350°. Season squash halves with some salt and pepper and place, cut side down on 2 large, rimmed baking sheets. Pour 1 cup of water onto each sheet. Cover with heavy duty aluminum foil and bake for about 1 hour, or until tender. Carefully remove foil and let squash cool slightly. Using a dish towel, hold each piece of squash and scoop out the contents into a bowl.
While squash is cooling, melt the 4 TBS butter in a large casserole or Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the spices and continue sautéing for an additional 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock; increase heat and bring to a boil. Add the squash and heavy cream. Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.
Working in batches, puree the soup in a food processor (or alternatively use an immersion blender). Return soup to pot and season to taste with salt and pepper and any additional spices, if desired.
Blend a pinch of each of the spices into the crème fraiche. Serve soup, hot, in bowls and garnish with crème fraiche.
* recipe adapted from Food & Wine magazine