Su­per sim­ple, re­ally good roasted but­ter­nut squash soup

The Hamilton Spectator - - FOOD - BETHANY JEAN CLE­MENT

For cold, un­cer­tain times, there is soup.

Keep it sim­ple, and mak­ing soup means one thing will, without a doubt, go right to­day. The calm­ing acts of chop­ping, heat­ing and stir­ring lead to a sus­tain­ing se­ries of good smells, an or­derly, con­trolled pro­gres­sion in a dis­or­derly, out-of-con­trol uni­verse.

This par­tic­u­lar soup has been part of my win­ter­time sup­per vo­cab­u­lary for so long, mak­ing it is like vis­it­ing with an old friend.

Orig­i­nally, I think I bought a funny-look­ing, gi­ant-peanut­shaped but­ter­nut squash on a whim, then it sat on the counter un­til some­thing was found to do with it. The first recipe I found, now lost to the sands of time, in­volved peel­ing and cub­ing it.

But but­ter­nut’s skin is hard, its flesh tough. Turned out that roast­ing the squash was far eas­ier, smelled heav­enly and made the soup even richer.

This soup takes a lit­tle time, but it’s very dif­fi­cult to screw up — lis­ten to some favourite songs while you’re mak­ing it.

Roasted But­ter­nut Squash Soup

Or­ganic in­gre­di­ents can make a real dif­fer­ence with soup this sim­ple; spring for them if you can. (Or­ganic sour cream is so worth it!)

You can also ex­per­i­ment with dif­fer­ent spic­ing: sage, herbes de Provence, cin­na­mon/nut­meg, gin­ger, curry, za’atar, any kind of minced fresh herbs, what­ever sounds good — us­ing it to sea­son the squash be­fore roast­ing and then again, to taste, as the soup sim­mers.

Pepi­tas make a nice gar­nish: save the squash seeds, then toast them in a lit­tle olive oil and salt at 325 de­grees for about 15 min­utes. Or if you’ve got good crou­tons, serve it with some on top, or with a nice baguette, or just but­tered toast. (And un­less you’re ve­gan, don’t skip the dairy here.)

MAKES 2 TO 4 SERV­INGS

1 large but­ter­nut squash Olive oil Salt and pep­per 1 large yel­low onion 2 ta­ble­spoons of but­ter (or olive oil) 3½ cups chicken or veg­etable stock (home­made is best, but store-bought is fine, too) ¼ cup whip­ping cream (op­tional) Sour cream for dol­lop­ing (op­tional) Ital­ian pars­ley

Pre­heat oven to 400 de­grees. Care­fully cut squash in half length­wise (cut the stem off ), then scoop out seeds and stringy stuff.

Put a half-inch or so of wa­ter in a bak­ing pan, and set the squash in it, cut side up; driz­zle with olive oil, rub­bing it around to coat, and sprin­kle lib­er­ally with salt and pep­per. Roast on mid­dle rack of the oven for 45 min­utes to an hour, un­til the flesh is soft. Let cool for about 20 min­utes.

Chop the onion and sauté in but­ter over medium heat in a large pot, sprin­kling with a lit­tle salt and pep­per. Re­move from heat when the onion is soft.

Add the flesh of the but­ter­nut squash, scoop­ing it out with a spoon; dis­card the skin.

Pour in enough stock to cover; bring to a boil, then re­duce heat and sim­mer, stir­ring oc­ca­sion­ally, about 15 min­utes.

Blend with an im­mer­sion blender or in batches un­til smooth. Stir in cream; taste and sea­son with salt and pep­per (it’ll want some of both).

Gar­nish each bowl with a dol­lop of sour cream and chopped Ital­ian pars­ley, plus a lit­tle pep­per.

KEN LAMBERT, TNS

Take one large, funny-look­ing but­ter­nut squash and turn it into this sim­ple, sooth­ing soup.

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