Friday, November 10, 2017

Southern Autumn Butternut Squash Soup

Funny thing - it only just began to feel at all like fall, here in northern Mississippi. Until a couple weeks ago, it was just Summer 2.0 - still some heat and humidity, but not as much heat. Springtime weather.

Two weeks ago, I was recovering from a long week and declared, on the way home from church, that I absolutely was not cooking for the rest of the day. But then...the rain and drizzle got to me, and all I could think about was butternut squash soup and chocolate chip cookies. So we stopped at the grocery store on the way home from church, and I zipped through the store for butter and brown sugar (for the cookies) and a squash and apples for the soup. In the end, I wound up spending the afternoon and early evening in the kitchen - but we had good food to enjoy because of it!

I like apples in my soup - tart ones. Granny Smiths are great, but any kind of tart baking apple would work. Basically, you're looking for acidity to brighten the squash. I also used half of a Honeycrisp, which was chilling on the shelf in my fridge and found a better use in soup.

A last note - I started using Better than Bouillon years ago, when I got tired of my fridge being a graveyard for half-full boxes of chicken broth. It keeps in the fridge nicely, and makes a flavorful broth. Now that we have an extra freezer in the garage, I'm excited to make homemade chicken stock, but until that time, the Better than Bouillon works well for all of my broth/stock needs.

~ Butternut Squash & Apple Soup ~

1 2lb Butternut squash
1 large onion, chopped fine
2 large carrots, chopped fine
2 ribs of celery, chopped fine
1 1/2 apples (both tart, or a mix of tart and sweet)
5 cups chicken broth (or 5 tsps Better than Bouillon dissolved in 5 cups of hot water)
1/2-1 cup half & half
dash freshly ground nutmeg
salt & pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese, for garnish

Heat oven to 400 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil, and grease it lightly. With a heavy-duty knife, cut the squash down the middle, splitting it open. Scoop out the seeds. Cut each half in half, place flesh-side down on the baking sheet, allow to roast for 35-45 minutes, or until the squash is very soft and pierces easily with a fork. Remove from oven and allow it to cool enough to handle. Remove and discard outer peel, give the squash a rough chop, and set aside.

While the squash roasts, saute the remaining veggies and apple over medium heat in a large soup pot in a few tablespoons of olive oil and some salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the veggies cook down and have reduced in volume; 15-30 minutes.

Add the squash when it's ready, along with the broth, and allow to simmer together for 30-60 minutes. 

Turn the heat down, and either blend in batches or use an immersion blender to blend the soup until very smooth. Add the half and half and nutmeg, stir, taste, and adjust seasonings as necessary. 

Serve with grated parmesan cheese. Refrigerate leftovers - the soup also freezes beautifully.

What's your favorite fall soup? Share in the comments!

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