Capturing the very essence of autumn/fall colors; butternut squash makes the most wonderful, comforting and nutritious soup. Silky smooth in texture and slightly sweet, this recipe can be adapted for vegetarians by omitting the ham and replacing the chicken broth with vegetable broth.
You can roast the butternut squash a day or two before and keep it covered in the fridge. It can also be used in other dishes such as risotto or perhaps a pie.
I top the soup with a scattering of ‘Shitake Bacon’ and a dollop of Greek yogurt. Dry roasted pumpkin seeds/pepitas or a few small, crisp, buttery fried croutons would also be good but pass those around separately for people to add their own as they become very soft very quickly.
OVEN ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP
(4 large servings)
32 fl oz (900 ml) of organic chicken or vegetable broth, with extra to thin it down if needed
A 2-2.5 lb (approx 1 kilo) butternut squash
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
I tablespoon of olive oil
1 bay leaf
Small grind of nutmeg (optional)
12 oz (340g) lean bacon or ham cut into ½ inch dice
Salt, black pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 350F / 180C
Cut the squash in half, lengthways and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Feed those to the birds or your hamster.
Brush the cut sides with a little olive oil and place cut sides down on a shallow, foil-lined roasting tray… bake in the oven for approx 45 minutes, or until squeezably soft. Set aside and once cool enough to handle, scoop out all the flesh with a spoon and discard the skins. Try a spoonful and notice how roasting the butternut has brought out its sweetness.
You can keep it in the fridge for a few days until you’re ready to use it.
In a large heavy saucepan, heat the oil and sauté the diced onion and garlic gently until soft. Add the butternut squash, bay leaf, tiny pinch of nutmeg and chicken broth – bring to a boil then simmer gently for 30-40 minutes or until everything has thoroughly softened.
Allow to cool, remove the bay leaf then blend until smooth – season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
It can be made to this point 24 hours ahead and kept covered in the fridge.
If you’re using ham or bacon – about 30-40 minutes before you want to serve the soup, dry sauté the ham pieces in a wide skillet until slightly browned then add them to the puréed soup and gently heat everything through, adding more stock as needed to get the required consistency.
Pour into large warm bowls and garnish at will but offer croutons separately.
Any leftovers kept covered in the fridge will taste wonderful the following day.