Winter Squash Soup

I LOVE FALL!  I think it has to do with the build up to the holidays and all things related to food and family.  Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and come September, I start thinking about that meal.  Who’s making what?  Which traditional dishes are we sticking true to and which ones are we putting a new spin on? Two weeks ago I was watching a new Barefoot Contessa episode which happened to be a Halloween themed show.  The savory dish she made, in addition to whipping up some sweet confections, was a winter squash soup.  This soup looked so tasty and it’s orange color called for being included in our Halloween dinner for two!  Also, you can’t beat the fact that there is pumpkin in the recipe…

Hers and His Pumpkins

While watching the episode, I was quite surprised to see that after battling to break down a big butternut squash, Ina decided to open up a CAN of pumpkin puree.  It didn’t make sense to me until after she explained that the “meat” from a home-cooked pumpkin is actually a little stringy whereas the canned pumpkin has a very smooth consistency.  As long as it is pure pumpkin puree, and not pumpkin pie filling, it’s the same stuff with far less work!  I bought my canned pumpkin puree from Trader Joe’s and it happens to be organic to boot.  Just make sure you look at the label of whatever canned pumpkin you’re using to ensure the only ingredient is pumpkin…

I think this recipe would be great on any autumn day and would be a great starter course on Thanksgiving.  We ate it on All Hallows Eve while seas of kiddos were knocking on our door in search of candy.  As Josh said, “It took me an hour and a half to eat dinner!” That is how often we had to get up to open the door for trick-or-treaters.  It was nice to have a smooth, creamy, comforting pumpkin-squash soup to get us through our candy dispensing 🙂

Winter Squash Soup Courtesy of Barefoot Contessa, Barefoot in Paris

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon good olive oil
2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling)
11/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cut in chunks
3 cups homemade chicken stock or canned broth
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup half and half
Crème fraîche, grated Gruyère, or croutons, for serving (optional)

Directions:

Heat the butter and oil in a heavy-bottomed stockpot, add the onions, and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until translucent.

Add the pumpkin purée, butternut squash, chicken stock, salt, and pepper.

Cover and simmer over medium-low heat for about 20 minutes, until the butternut squash is very tender.

Process the mixture through the medium blade of a food mill. Return to the pot, add the half-and-half, and heat slowly.

If the soup needs more flavor, add another teaspoon of salt. Serve hot with garnishes, if desired.

Yield:  4 servings

Note 1:  I don’t own a foodmill, although I have been saying I need to get one.  I used an emersion blender and made sure not to over-blend.  You don’t want it to end up like baby food.  Keep some texture to it.

Note 2:  When I tasted it at the very end before serving, I thought it needed more flavor and I didn’t think it was missing salt.  I decided to add about a half teaspoon each of ground cumin and cinnamon and it did the trick!

Note 3:  For garnish, I used crème fraîche and diagonally sliced green onion.  I think chives would have also been delicious.  Crème fraîche is similar to sour cream but without the tang.  I find it richer and creamier than sour cream and, thus, more delicious.

Enjoy!

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