Sunday, November 9, 2014

Roasted Butternut Squash Apple Soup

This soup can be made ahead as a concentrate and frozen.  Defrost the concentrate in the microwave on low power and add water or chicken broth for a pure taste of autumn.  Make it this week and you'll have a Thanksgiving first course or day-after soup to go with turkey sandwiches.

Sodium levels stay in check using low sodium broth or water and just enough salt to bring up the sweet-savory flavor of the squash.  An apple (or 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce) for every medium-sized butternut squash is added to the soup to give just the right amount of mellow sweetness to this silky soup.  

I bought a half bushel* of butternut squash at the farmers market and making frozen soup concentrate is a great way to store the squash over the winter.  This pureed concentrate is not heavily seasoned  so in addition to using it as a soup base, it can be used as a side dish or even baby food. 
 
Along with the squash, you will need a few apples for this recipe.  Use any apple, especially ones that break down quickly for applesauce like Macintosh or Rome apples.  Your local farmers market has an abundance of apple varieties at this time of year.  Ask them to recommend one you cannot normally get at the supermarket. 

Roasted Butternut Squash Apple Soup Concentrate
Yield: about 6 cups pureed squash-apple concentrate, enough for 3 quarts of soup

3 medium-large butternut squash
4 apples (or use 1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce)
salt & pepper
1-2 tablespoons olive oil

Method
  1. Preheat oven to 425˚K.
  2. Carefully cut squash in half length-wise and scoop out the seeds from the cavity at the bottom of each half.  
  3. Salt and pepper the squash halves and rub them with a bit of olive oil.  
  4. Place face down on a well oiled rimmed backing sheet (you may need two pans).  
  5. Roast for 45-60 minutes until squash is cooked through and mashed when you press on flesh with a fork or spoon.
  6. While squash roasts, prepare apples.  Peel and core apples than roughly chop.  Place in in a medium saucepan with a few tablespoons of water and cook over medium low heat until softened, about 10 minutes.  Keep an eye on the water level. Juicy apples will not need any more added during cooking while less juicy ones may need some extra to prevent burning.  You can also toss the peeled apples (whole or quartered) in with the squash to roast.  Check them after 20 minutes; they may be soft sooner than the squash. 
  7. When the squash and apples are cooked and very soft, remove from heat/oven and allow to cool.
  8. When squash is cool enough to handle, scoop out flesh from the skin.  Place flesh in a large bowl or pot.  If there is any liquid in your roasting pan and it is not burnt, add it to the pot.  It will add a deep and concentrated flavor to your soup.  Add cooked apples.  
  9. Use a potato masher to mash the mixture. Taste and add salt and pepper.  If you have a immersion blender, finish the soup concentrate by pureeing it. You can also use a blender.  If you have neither, spend a little extra time mashing.  Your soup will be a little less smooth but equally delicious. 
  10. Cool concentrate completely and store in 1-2 cup containers or freezable bags. Freeze for future use.
  11. To make soup from the defrosted concentrate add broth or water on a 1:1 ratio.  If you like a thinner soup, add more liquid.  Taste again for seasoning and add more salt or pepper as desired. 

Roasted Butternut Squash Apple Soup is good plain or with garnishes like toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas), creme fraiche or your favorite hot sauce. 

*How much is a bushel?
A bushel is eight gallons of a dry product.  For winter squash that equals about 50 pounds.  My half bushel filled a brown grocery bag to the brim. My squash were all different sizes but expect about 20 medium-sized butternut squash in a bushel.  They keep well in a cool, dry spot in your house if you are not making all of it into soup. We like to peel, cube and roast it with olive oil and lots of black pepper.  Butternut squash is kid-friendly and a great substitute for potatoes at any fall meal.