There are few things better loved in my house in fall than this butternut squash soup. Creamy without being too rich, spicy without being novelty hot, it’s a warm, soothing thing on a chilly day.
I like this one in particular because it’s more on the savory side. Too many of these soups run too far toward sweet with apples and the like. Those are fine. I like this’n better.
I’m guilty of rarely measuring, so the spice quantities in particular are estimates.
— 3 to 4 butternut squash, peeled and roughly chopped
— 2 red sweet peppers, roughly chopped
— 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and roughly chopped
— 5 cloves garlic, peeled
— freshly ground spices: Mexican cinnamon (1/2 tsp.), cardamom (1/2 tsp.), cumin (1/2 tsp.), smoked sweet paprika (1/2 tsp.), 2 cloves and 3 allspice berries. OR: dried oregano (1/2 tsp.), dried rubbed sage (1/2 tsp.), ground fennel (anise) seeds (1/2 tsp.), smoked paprika (1/2 tsp.) and cumin (1/2 tsp.)
— 2 quarts poultry or vegetable stock, preferably homemade or super-low sodium, heated to just below boiling. (You may need less, but this’ll get you there.)
— salt and pepper to taste
— 4 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for roasting
— 1 lemon, zest and juice
— 1 jalapeño, stem removed and cut into chunks (optional)
— 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, though basil is a good substitute if you’re one of those tastes-like-soap people
In a 425-degree oven, roast the squash until tender and a bit caramelized in a little oil and sprinkled lightly with salt. After the first 10-15 minutes, you may want to stir so the bottoms don’t burn. Then another 10 minutes.
While the squash is roasting, add the oil, onion and garlic to a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Try not to let the onions take on color, instead getting them translucent after a few minutes. And whatever you do, don’t burn the garlic.
Add the peppers and stir, raising the heat to medium-high. After about 5 minutes, add in the spices and stir to combine thoroughly.
Add in the lemon juice and let reduce.
Add in the roasted squash and stir to combine.
After 5-10 minutes and stirring occasionally, add in just enough hot stock that all the ingredients just begin to float in it. Raise the heat to high until it begins to simmer, the reduce the heat to only maintain a light simmer.
Stir occasionally and let simmer about 20 minutes, adding in the jalapeño after about 10 minutes.
Now comes the fun part. If you have an immersion blender, this is super-easy. If you don’t, why on Earth do you not have an immersion blender? It’s not like they’re that expensive. You can use a regular blender or a food processor, it’s just more labor-intensive and messier.
Kill the heat, add the fresh herb and lemon zest and blend the soup until smooth. If you have an immersion blender, you can do it right there in the pot. Otherwise, transfer in small batches to a blender or food processor and blend. If it’s too thick, add in a bit more stock.
Taste for seasoning. If you used a store-bought stock, there may be enough salt already, so add pepper to taste. If you us a homemade stock without salt, add with pepper to taste.