Sunday, June 13, 2010

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

I had a personal request from a friend of mine for pumpkin soup.  I know it's not exactly soup season right now (I tend to think of fall and winter as perfect soup weather), nor is it pumpkin season, but at our rehearsal dinner in Aruba they served a wonderful pumpkin soup.  It was sweet and had a creeping spice level that built up on the back of your palette as you ate and danced on your tongue.  It was delicious.  Although we were all totally skeptical about pumpkin soup in 80something degree heat on a beach in Aruba, everyone at the wedding raved about the soup.  I guess the chefs at the Westin, as well as the wedding planners know what they're doing after all!

Anyway, I tried to make a soup with similar flavors, particularly with that slight creeping heat to it, which was by far my favorite thing about the soup.  In addition to the butternut squash we roasted a sweet onion and an apple.  I wanted the soup to be naturally sweet, which roasting helps, and also thought that roasting the ingredients would give them a deeper, darker flavor.  I thought about adding some fresh herbs to the soup, but since I didn't taste any herbs in the Aruba soup and I was trying to replicate it, I left the herbs out.  And while I know it sounds really weird to add a pinch of cinnamon to the soup, don't leave it out.  It really made the soup.  With just the curry powder and the cayenne pepper it was a bit one dimensional, but the ground cinnamon really made it sing.  Yum.  We served our soup with a nice fresh arugula and toasted hazelnut salad and some toasted brioche.  The warm, buttery brioche was delicious when dipped in the soup.  And then the slight bitterness of the arugula lightened the meal up and made it all feel a lot more appropriate for dinner on a warm summer night.

Recipe after the jump!

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

1 large butternut squash, peeled and seeded, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 Gala apple, peeled and cored, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 tbsp evoo
2 tsp kosher salt, separated
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, separated
3 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper 
pinch ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  Place squash, onions and apples on a sheet pan.  Toss with evoo, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper.  Spread squash mixture out into a single layer and roast until very tender, 35-45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to ensure even roasting.  Do not overcrowd the sheet pan - if necessary split the ingredients between two sheet pans before roasting.

Heat chicken stock to a simmer in a large heavy-bottomed pot (I recommend a Le Creuset, but any decent saucepan will do).  When vegetables are done, place them in in the pot with the chicken stock.  Puree with an immersion blender.  If you don't have an immersion blender, coarsely puree the roasted vegetables in a food processor or blender with a splash of chicken stock before adding them to the rest of the chicken stock.  Add curry powder, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper.  Stir to combine.  Taste and add additional seasonings to taste.

Serve hot.

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