roasted butternut squash soup
Fall has arrived. Sort of. Since I live in South Florida, changes in season are barely noticeable blips on the thermometer. You’d think I’d be used to it by now, having lived here for 24 years, but every autumn I am nostalgic for those cool crisp days, the vibrant colors of the changing leaves and the ability to walk outside in a pair of jeans and a jacket without melting like a popsicle in August.
>As I write this, it is 88 degrees with a feels like temperature of 93. Such is life in the tropics. It will be at least two more months before I even get a whiff of cooler weather (by cooler, I’m talking 80’s during the day and high 60’s at night). So I will do what I always do — immerse myself in the flavors of the fall season. And turn down the A/C!
I love the simplicity of soups and one of my standards for fall highlights the humble squash and turns it into something really special. Take a look at the ingredients for this soup and you’ll see, it’s pretty much an homage to autumn. It’s sweet and savory at the same time — warmed with cinnamon and nutmeg with a kick of curry and finished with a hint of orange zest. Fennel, onion and apple are the perfect back note to roasted butternut and acorn squash.
In the past, I would peel and chop the squash then saute it in my dutch oven. Do you know what a pain it is to peel and chop butternut and acorn squash? I think it must be my hands — they’re too small. Or the squash is too large to hold while I’m trying to peel it — it always seems to slip from my grasp, into the sink. I don’t fight it any more. I simply cut them in half, scoop out the seeds and fibers, and roast them! Roasting softens the squash and intensifies the flavors and I avoid having bloody knuckles! Win-win!
Served with a green salad, a piece of crusty bread and a chilled glass of white wine – what a way to welcome the “change in seasons” — even if it is just wishful thinking on my part!
- One 2½-3 pound butternut squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
- One 2-2½ pound acorn squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 fennel bulb, coarsely chopped, feathery fronds trimmed and reserved for garnish
- 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 2 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 2 tablespoons sweet curry powder
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
- 6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ½ teaspoon fresh orange zest
- Preheat oven to 375°. Brush squash halves with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Place squash, flesh side down on a baking sheet and roast for 30-40 minutes, until flesh is soft. Rest squash until it's cool enough to handle.
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat remaining olive oil over medium heat. Add fennel, onion, and carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened about 5-6 minutes. Add apples and cook for 4-5 minutes longer, until softened. Add curry, cinnamon and nutmeg, stirring to combine. Cook for an additional 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
- Working in batches, scoop about ¼ squash flesh and ¼ of the fennel/apple mixture into the container of the blender or food processor. Add 1- 1½ cups of broth. Put the cover on the blender and with a dish towel in hand (to prevent any splattering) hold the lid on the blender while you pureé until smooth. Soup should be thick, but if you find it's too thick, add more broth about ¼-½ cup at a time.
- Pour soup from blender into a large (5-7 quart) dutch oven or heavy soup pot. Continue blending in batches until all vegetables are pureéd. Heat soup through over medium heat and stir in cream. Heat until warmed through. Add orange zest and stir to combine. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with reserved fennel fronds.
- Serves 10-12 as an appetizer or 6-8 as a main dish.
- I view most dishes like I would an ice cream sundae, "What can I put on top?" For starters, plain yogurt, sour cream, or creme fraiche with fennel fronds are excellent accompaniments. Even better - try crispy diced bacon or pancetta, crunchy garlic croutons or toasted pepitas!