Roasted Butternut Squash and Garlic Soup
Where was I? Oh yeah.
When I went through the weeks-long process of buying this stick blender, almost two years ago, I said "Now we can make butternut squash soup!"
And we got the blender, and we made tomato soup, and we made potato leek soup, and we used its other attachments to chop onions and cheese and to grind Caprial Spice (a story for another post) and to whip cream ... but we never made butternut squash soup.
Roasted Butternut Squash and Garlic (also roasted) Soup
We used this recipe from Epicurious, combined with another to roast the squash, but as always mostly just used them for the ingredient list and the process list, as follows:
Preheat oven to 350°. Slice two heads (not cloves!) of garlic horizontally in half or so. Brush each side with olive oil and put the tops back on. Wrap in foil.
I don't remember how I roasted the squash, but I think it was something like this: Cut two butternut squashes down the middle. Scoop out seeds and strings. Brush tops with olive oil. Line baking sheets or brownie pans with foil (for easier cleaning) and place squash in pan(s) cut side down.
Place garlic and squash in oven. Roast squashes until they are squishy when squeezed with tongs. Roast garlic for about 4o minutes, until tender.
Although I ignored the quantities listed in the recipe (3 cups onion, 3/4 cups carrots, 3/4 cups celery), by this time I hope I can figure out a relatively balanced mirepoix, which is what this recipe starts with, after everything is finished roasting.
Put the mirepoix in the pot you intend to use for the soup with a healthy drizzle of olive oil over med-low heat. Sauté.
When squash is cooled enough to handle, scoop it out with a spoon. Plop it straight into the pot with the mirepoix. Add broth and some sage if you like (I always use thyme in my mirepoix, because I love the way it smells with the onion, so I did not include sage).
Meanwhile, when garlic has cooled enough to handle, remove it from its foil packages. Squirt the half-cloves out of their paper jackets -- this part is super fun. If you are feeling charitable, save some garlics for your cooking partner to squirt out of their jackets.
Squirt all these garlics into a bowl, and mush them up loosely with a fork.
Add the garlic to the soup and stir.
Retrieve stick blender from cupboard and use it, finally, for its original purpose: purée the soup.
As the soup is puréeing, add cream. We used the whole half-pint of half-and-half (yum).
Stir stir stir until all cream is incorporated.
I had been thinking lately of a restaurant we like, Earth & Ocean, and also of the new restaurant by E&O's former chef, Tilth. At these restaurants, presumably at the direction of Maria Hines, soup is served in an empty bowl. The bowl arrives with its garnish placed in the center of the bowl, but nothing else; the server carries a stainless steel serving pot, and after placing the bowl pours the soup in to surround the garnish. This works particularly well with slightly melty garnishes, or else oily ones. I have had it to great success at E&O with a cheese soup where the garnish was sticks of cheddar with mustard oil drizzled on them. The oil floats around in the soup and surprises you when you catch a bite with it in, and the cheese got softened and melty into the soup around it.
Since I was planning to serve this soup with sour cream and chives on top, and since I had done all the cooking and Boxcar Dewey wasn't paying attention, I decided to do it fun like Maria Hines. I put the dollop of sour cream in the bowl, sprinkled it with chives, and ladled the soup into my teapot. B.D. was confused when I put down an empty bowl in front of him, but he laughed when he saw the soup coming out of the spout of the teapot. It worked out quite well, actually, with some chives floating and the sour cream melting around the edges and stirring into the soup quite well.
Um. Stop rambling.
The garlicky flavor of this soup really complemented the smooth texture of the squash combined with the cream. I liked it a lot and will definitely be making it again; I'm even thinking about growing butternut squashes so I can make several batches over the summer and freeze them. This recipe may even have been worth the two years' wait to get to eat it.