Sunday, October 3, 2010

Autumn Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut squash is one of my absolute favorite flavors of fall.  Its savory, yet slightly sweet qualities are intensified when slowly roasted with a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper.  Or alternatively, with a combination of butter, sugar and cinnamon as a sweet dessert option.  Pretty much no matter how you choose to serve it, it's fabulous!  So with temps dropping and all of the recent rain in NYC, it felt like the perfect time to whip up a batch of cozy butternut squash soup.  This simple, yet deeply flavorful soup celebrates some of the best ingredients of the season and will have you welcoming the cool weather, knowing you have a big bowl of it to warm you up!  

1 1/2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 leek, cleaned and trimmed (Trader Joe's is great for this)
1 large apple (I like Braeburns for their tart & sweet flavor combo)
2 1/2 cups roasted butternut squash
3 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/2 tsp. fresh ginger, grated
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
Salt and pepper, to taste
Toasted pecans and roasted squash seeds, to garnish

Begin by roasting your squash.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cut one large butternut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds as you would a pumpkin, only easier!  Rinse seeds and set aside.  Place squash halves on a baking sheet flesh side up and season each half with 2 tsp. olive oil and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper.  Spread out seeds alongside squash and sprinkle with salt and pepper as well.  Place baking sheet in oven and roast away!  Check on the seeds about 10-15 minutes in and remove from sheet when sufficiently roasted.  All in all, it will take about 45 minutes to cook the squash until fork tender, possibly longer depending on your oven and the size of your squash.  But it's so worth the wait!

Once your squash is done, remove from oven to cool and begin building the base of your soup.  Chop apple into small cubes and prepare the leek.  Leeks impart a lovely, light onion flavor without the sharpness of regular onions.  However they are known for being notoriously gritty, so make sure your leek is clean by floating it in a large bowl of water to remove any grit from the inner layers.  Pat dry after rinsing and slice leek into thin ribbons.  Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat and add leeks and apples.  Saute for about 3-4 minutes until softened.  While that's cooking, remove the skin from the cooled butternut squash and cut into small cubes.  Add squash to pot and pour in chicken broth.  Add grated ginger and cinnamon and simmer for 20-30 minutes to develop flavors.  Ladel into a blender and puree until smooth, or use an immersion blender if you're lucky enough to have one.  Definitely on my kitchen wish list!  Add back into pot to warm through.  Spoon into a bowl and top with roasted seeds and toasted pecans.  Since this recipe is a little more time consuming to prepare, it makes for an ideal weekend dish.  Dive into a bowl for dinner and pack some up for lunch during the week!

Makes about 3 1/2 to 4 cups.         

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