When we picked up a butternut squash for our Butternut Squash & Mushroom Pies, we selected the smallest available. It was still over three pounds. Sure, it’s a bit less when it’s trimmed, peeled, and seeded, but it’s still a lot of squash that we needed to use. The simplest way would have been just as a side dish. You know, some squash topped with a bit of butter, but we had other plans.
We went with a soup, basically following the recipe for the Presidential Mushroom Soup, but with butternut squash in place of mushrooms. It’s a simple soup, and we think that it shows the versatility of having a good recipe for a cream of “something” soup. You can change it to cream of “anything” soup. If you don’t yet have such a basic recipe, you might want to give this one a try. It’s good.
Makes 4 servings.
Leeks are milder and sweeter than onion, so use it if you have one; otherwise, use about 1/4 cup of minced onion. Use fresh thyme if you have it; otherwise, dried thyme works very well for soup. It often seems as though it’s a bit more flavorful than fresh. We’ll leave the type of cream up to you. For a very rich soup, use heavy cream; half-and-half will make a lighter soup. We do recommend that you find cream without additives — read those ingredients lists. Finally, use a light stock. We use stock we scratch ourselves — basically we save vegetable scraps for about a week, then boil them up and strain.
Procedure in detail:
Roast squash. Preheat the oven to 350°F and place the squash on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake until tender, about 30 minutes. Set aside.
Cook alliums. Place the butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat, and, when melted, add the leeks and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 8 minutes. We like to cook the leeks at a lower temperature than onions because they’re milder. Too high a temperature will cook away some of the delicate taste.
Add squash and thyme. Stir in the squash and thyme so it all gets coated with a bit of butter.
Add flour. Technically, we’re making a roux. Basically, mixing flour with fat and using it to thicken our soup. So, sprinkle the flour over the squash mixture and stir it in so everything is coated. Continue to cook and stir for about 1 minute.
Add broth. Stirring continuously to avoid lumps, slowly add the broth to the squash mixture, then bring to a low boil.
Simmer. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. This may not seem important, but it is, as it cooks the flour so that it no longer tastes like flour. No one likes soup that tastes like flour.
Process. Working in batches if need be, process all of the soup in a blender or a food processor until it’s smooth. If you have one of those immersion blenders on a stick, use that, as it’ll be easier than several trips to the food processor. Once smooth, return to the pan and the heat. Bring back to a simmer.
Add cream. Pour in the cream, stir, and let the soup heat through. Do not let it boil. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.
Serve immediately. Cream soups are hard to re-heat or keep hot, as the cream tends to separate a bit, making the soup more milky than creamy. So get out those bowls and dish it up.
We had this for dinner and, while it was a good way to use up the squash, butternut squash is not our favorite flavor. It tends to be a bit on the sweet side, somewhat lacking in the savory component, which is really what we’re looking for in soup. But, we will say that this is a very good recipe, and, other than roasting the squash beforehand, it’s quite easy and straightforward to prepare. Even though it’s easy, we’ll still give it four stars for the flavor (if you love butternut squash, you’ll probably give it five).