The warm hues of autumn are echoed in this golden-orange bowl of butternut squash soup.Thick, with a mild, slightly sweet taste, this winter squash is low-calorie and a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, dietary fiber and manganese, folate, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin B1 (thiamin), copper, tryptophan, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B3 (niacin) and vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid). It is also a source of iron and beta carotene. (source)
I had already roasted the butternut squash the day before I came upon this Williams-Sonoma recipe that roasts the squash without cutting it in half. I'm always uneasy cutting these thick-skinned squash and will definitely give this method a try next time. I usually cut the squash in half, brush with melted butter, sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake until tender.
And, since I didn't have the oven hot at the time I was making the soup, I toasted the nuts in a dry pan on top of the stove.
Butternut Squash Soup
slightly adapted from recipe Williams-Sonoma
2 large butternut squashes, each 1 1/2 to 2 lb.
1/3 cup hazelnuts, optional (I used mixed nuts)
6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
2 yellow onions, chopped (I used the red onions because that is what I had)
3 celery ribs, chopped
8 fresh sage leaves, shredded
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock or canned broth
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste (I used 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 tsp pepper)
Ground nutmeg, to taste, (I think the nutmeg is important and added about 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground)
Pinch of sugar, if needed (I added 1 Tablespoon of brown sugar)
1 cup cream or half & half or more to thin to desired consistency (I used fat free half & half)
Served with a dollop a Greek yogurt or sour cream
Preheat an oven to 400°F.
Prick each squash with the tip of a knife so it will not explode when it bakes. Place the whole squashes on a baking sheet and roast until they feel somewhat soft to the touch and a knife penetrates the skin easily, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven and, when cool enough to handle, cut in half lengthwise and remove and discard the seeds and fibers. Scoop out the pulp into a bowl and set aside.
While the squashes are cooling, reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. Spread the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast until fragrant and the skins have loosened, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and, while still warm, place the nuts in a kitchen towel. Rub the towel vigorously to remove the skins; do not worry if small bits of skin remain. Chop and set aside.
In a saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Add the onions, celery and half of the sage and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are tender and translucent, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the stock and squash pulp, raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for a few minutes to combine the flavors. Remove from the heat.
Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender or food processor. Return to a clean saucepan. Alternatively, pass the soup through a food mill placed over the pan. Reheat gently over medium-low heat. Season with salt and pepper (and cream, if using). If the squash is starchy rather than sweet, a little nutmeg will help. If the nutmeg does not give the proper flavor balance, add a pinch of sugar.
Ladle into warmed bowls and garnish with the hazelnuts and the remaining sage. If desired, top with a dollop of Greek yogurt or sour cream. Serve immediately.