Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Welcome to fall. Despite the balmy 80+ degree weather we've had here in New York this past weekend, of course. I have no doubt though that soon we'll be fully immersed in autumn, for better or worse. Which means roasting, soups, stews, all those meals that'll warm up not only your home but erase the chill from your bones as well. And because you're roasting the vegetables prior they pick up further layers of flavor, so you don't need to simmer your soup for hours on end. This could actually be a meal made on a weeknight.
I love this particular soup because it's equally healthy: roasted squash, garlic, tomatoes with some spinach thrown in for good measure too, and also just as equally bad in all those delicious ways: caramelized onions, bacon, cream. It's thick and rich though, so you don't need to eat that much to fill up and freezes well, so you can make a large pot to put back for all of winter, or however long it'll last before being completely devoured because... well it's delicious. And it also gave me the chance to try out my brand new food processor (major appliance love post to come soon... this thing is seriously amazing).

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
1 lb. butternut squash, seeded and cubed
1 c. cherry tomatoes- halved
2-3 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp. rosemary
1/2 tsp. thyme
2-3 large sage leaves- you can chiffonade these
1-2 Tbl. olive oil
1/4 c. sherry
1/4 c. cream (or half and half or milk but be sure to temper it first so it doesn't curdle)
2 c. chopped spinach
4 c. broth
1 Spanish onion- 1/2 sliced (for caramelized onion topping) and 1/2 chopped (for the soup)
2 slices bacon- chopped in 1" pieces (optional for topping)
Roasted pepitas (optional for topping)
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400. Toss squash, tomatoes and unpeeled garlic cloves, sage, rosemary and thyme with olive oil and spread out in one layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and bake for 30 minutes or until squash is fork tender.

2. Set a large cast iron pot over medium heat. Add chopped bacon and cook until crisp. Remove bacon and drain, reserving approx 1 Tbl. fat. Add chopped onions and cook until translucent. Add the roasted vegetables, removing the garlic from the peel beforehand, along with the spinach leaves. Add sherry and deglaze the pan for  5 minutes. Add the stock and let cook on low heat for 10-15.

3. Using either an immersion blender or a food processor (and working in batches with the latter), add the mixture and blend until well combined. Add back into the pot (not necessary if using an immersion blender) and taste for salt. Add the cream and let cook on a low simmer for 20-30 minutes.

4. Serve immediately topped with crumbled bacon, carmelized onions and roasted pepitas

And want to make this vegan? Leave off the bacon. Take out the cream (trust me, the soup will still be nice and thick and creamy). Use vegetable stock. Voila.

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