The weather has cooled, the days are getting a little shorter and the sweaters are out! Fall has definitely arrived in the Berkshires and I am finding I am looking forward to getting back into the kitchen each day.
I love the options we have for seasonal produce this time of year. Squashes and root veggies, crisp greens and what's left of the summer's tomatoes and herbs all find their place on our plates.
One of my favorite things to cook is soup, and there is always a pot of something on my stove or in the fridge to reheat for a nutritious lunch. It doesn't matter the season, soups are always a part of our meals. I love soups because they are pure comfort food for me, they are simple to make, a great way to incorporate a variety of veggies and proteins, usually easy to digest and they are warming and soothing no matter what the weather.
This soup is my go-to for cooler weather. It's warming, thick, soothing and can be spiced up with curry powder, sweetened with a little maple syrup or left just as it is, letting the natural flavors of the squash shine through.
Butternut squash is one of the vegetable I call the powerhouses. It is a great source of vitamin A which helps our eyesight, supports a healthy immune system and bone health, and can help restore skin health and prevent acne. It contains magnesium, calcium, iron, potassium, vitamin C and even a small amount of protein.The complex carbohydrates found in whole foods, particularly vegetables and whole grains, can be a great source of needed energy for our body while helping improve digestion due to their high fiber content, as well as help satiate our appetite.
This soup is easy, quick and satisfying and has a few variations to try.
What says Autumn better than a beautiful hot bowl of butternut squash bisque? This soup has minimal ingredients, and can be made quite quickly. No need to add dairy, but a garnish of croutons is delish! There are many variations that work well with this soup such as adding a diced ripe pear before pureeing, toss in a can of coconut milk, add cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, or some curry powder. For this recipe I used garam masala and a dash of cayenne pepper to spice it up. Roasting the squash helps bring out it's caramel like sweetness.
1 large butternut, buttercup or kabocha squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1" cubes
1/8 cup of pure, real maple syrup (more if you like a sweeter bisque)
3-4 tbsp olive or coconut oil (or enough to coat your squash) +2 tbsp for sauteing
1 sweet onion, diced
1 large shallot, minced
1-2" piece of ginger, peeled and minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp garam masala OR a pinch each of ground clove, cinnamon, cardamom, and corriander OR 2 tbsp curry powder
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Add squash cubes to a large mixing bowl and stir in maple syrup and 3-4 tbsp olive oil. Mix well to combine. Season with a little salt and pepper, a pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg or curry powder. Toss the squash onto a baking sheet without overcrowding your pan.
Roast on middle rack in the oven about 30 minutes or until the squash begins to brown and can be pierced easily with a fork, turning halfway through.
While the squash is roasting, add 2 tbsp olive oil to a soup pot and saute onion, shallot, ginger and garlic until onions becomes translucent. Add garam masala and cayenne pepper.
Remove squash from oven and place in blender with water or veggie broth to cover. Puree until smooth, and add water or broth to get desired consistency. If you have an immersion blender, this works great as well.
Add the pureed soup back to the soup pot and heat slowly. Garnish with a few croutons or some toasted pumpkin seeds and enjoy!
Lena Harrington Esko