It’s hard to go wrong with butternut squash soup. It purees like a dream and can be curried, citrusy, gingery, spicy, creamy, beany….pretty much however you like. Here’s a recipe for when you just want it squashy. The tricks to deepening the flavor are roasting the squash and making a stock with the seeds and scrapings (I love making stock out of trimmings. It’s so efficient!).
1 medium butternut squash (2 – 2 1/2 lbs)
1 leek or large shallot, thinly sliced
A few sprigs of thyme and/or sage
2 tbsp butter
Splash of milk or cream
2 tsp dark brown sugar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Pepitas for garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 F. Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Stabilize your squash by sticking the top end into your sink drainer before hacking away. Scoop out the seeds and fibers and set aside. Roast the squash halves in the oven until tender (about 45 minutes). If using pepitas, toast in a single layer in the oven during the last 10 minutes, until they start to brown.
In the mean time, melt 1 tbsp butter over medium heat in a medium sized pot and add the bay leaf, a couple sprigs of thyme or sage, and squash seeds and scrapings. Cook for two minutes, then add 6 cups water, bring to a boil, and simmer for 20 minutes.
Melt the other tablespoon of butter in a soup pot over medium heat. Add leek or shallot and cook until soft. Peel roasted squash and cut into 1 inch chunks. Add squash and remaining thyme or sage leaves to the soup pot with a bit of salt and stir.
Add 4 cups of strained stock to the soup pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Puree (hand blender is easiest) and add milk or cream. Thin with remaining stock as necessary. Add sugar, salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with a sprinkle of toasted pepitas.