Creamy Butternut Squash Soup

I’ve come to really love a delicious, hot soup from a mug… to warm not only the body, but the spirit as well. That’s the kind of soup this is… one that doesn’t even need a spoon to enjoy!

After moving in to the city in 2010, local produce from the neighborhood farmer’s markets quickly became an essential part of our dinner table. This meant that I also became immersed in the world of seasonal fruits and vegetables. For the first time, I was talking with farmers and buying from them what they had pulled out of the ground or off the trees that very day from their local farms.

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So, then I had to learn what to do with some of these foods. One of those vegetables was a butternut squash. This was NOT something I grew up knowing about. But, I was trying out new foods in an effort to develop a more adventurous spirit… and honestly because I had lost so many foods on the “CAN EAT” list due to severe food intolerances.

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After some online research and much experimenting in the kitchen, this is one of my favorite butternut squash recipes I developed.

It’s perfect for a cold winter’s day… AND you can drink it from a mug, so your hands become just as warm as your belly when you eat it. This soup is rich in flavor, with a beautiful color and texture, and of coarse it’s allergy friendly!

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Free of all 10 of the most common food allergens, vegan, and gluten free… it’s definitely not free of deliciousness! It pairs perfect with a vegan, allergy friendly grilled cheese sandwich, or a salad for slightly lighter fare, and, as one of our popular sayings goes: “It’s SO good, you’ll never know what’s missing”… and neither will your family, friends, or guests.

So, grab an apron… and some mugs, and let’s get started. If you are able to eat nuts, you can also add roasted and boiled chestnuts (pictured) to the soup for a divine seasonal treat!

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This recipe will take about 1.5 hours from start to finish.

What you will need:

1 medium to large (or 2 smaller) butternut squash
One large onion, diced
1/2 the amount of celery as onion, diced (about 3 stalks of celery)
Same quantity of carrots as celery, diced (about 2 small or 1 medium carrots)
Optional: 1-1.5 cups roasted and boiled chestnuts
8 cups filtered water
3 Rapunzel Vegetable and Herb bouillon cubes
High heat oil, like canola or safflower
Salt & pepper
Ground cinnamon
Ground chili powder

Baking Sheet with sides (2 if roasting chestnuts)
Blender
Dutch Oven
(Optional: Sauce pot to boil chestnuts)
Cutting board and chef’s knife

If you are using chestnuts, learn how to roast them here http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/roastchestnuts_68084 and make then either the day before or earlier that day. When you take them out of the oven, place them in a metal or glass bowl with a towel over them to steam until they cool off to just warm to the touch. Peel them out of their shells and either allow them to cool before storing, or boil them in just enough water to cover them, until they are softer to eat (Note: they will still have a firmer nut texture, but will be much less hard than when they were roasted.) Boiling may take up to 20 minutes. Store until ready to use for the soup.

For the soup, begin by preheating your oven 400 degrees.

Lightly oil your baking pan. Cut your butternut squash in 1/2 lengthwise and scrap out the seeds and strands. Generously oil the inside and outside of both halves. Coat them with a generous sprinkling of cinnamon. Place them on your pan face down (skin side up) and bake for 20-30 minutes, until soft when a fork is inserted. Take them out to cool.

While your butternut squash is baking, dice all your vegetables.

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Once you have taken them out to cool, turn off your oven, and heat your dutch oven on medium high to lightly brown your vegetables (onion, celery, and carrots). Coat your dutch oven with 2-3 tablespoons of oil, and when the pan is hot enough to create ripples in the oil, add your vegetables and cook until it just starts browning on the edges.

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Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Take the vegetables out of your dutch oven, but leave the drippings in the pan. In those drippings, dissolve your bouillon on a low heat and set to the side remaining in the pot. You may need to add a couple teaspoons of water to do this.

Once the butternut squash is cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh from the skin in to the blender. Add some of the cooked vegetables (and some chestnuts of using those) and some of the water. If you use 1/2 of the squash flesh in the blender, use 1/2 of the vegetables, and 1/2 of the water (if it’s 1/3 of the squash, use 1/3 of each of the other ingredients, etc). Blend until smooth starting at the lowest speed and working up until your reach a smooth texture. Pour the pureed mixture in to the dutch oven with the bouillon.

Repeat this process until all the squash, vegetables (and chestnuts, if using), and water are pureed and in the dutch oven.

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Place your pot on a medium high heat, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to maintain a low simmer. Allow the bouillon to incorporate for about 5 minutes. Taste the soup for salt, and add salt and pepper as needed. Add a sprinkle of chili powder (about 1/4 tsp) to finish the soup. You can add more chili powder to taste.

If the soup is a little too thick, add more water 1 cup at a time until it reaches your desired consistency. It should be thick, like a bisque, but thin enough to drink from a mug.

Enjoy!

Try out this recipe and let me know what you think in the comments…

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