Sunday, November 14, 2010

Roasted Butternut Squash & Apple Soup (How I learned to stop hating butternut squash)

 My two-year anniversary of being a fledgling food blogger is coming very soon.  In two years I have challenged myself to make recipes that are very new to me.  I've also set my mind to seeing if my palate has matured a bit, and so I'm challenging myself to try certain foods that I have avoided for most of my life.
Butternut squash has been one of my greatest challenges.  For some reason, it always left a bitter and overpowering flavor in my mouth.  I've tried making recipes from butternut squash lasagna to slathering it with buckets of honey (well, not quite but I gave it a go).  My palate rejected it, but I didn't give up.

I'm sure many of you have seen the blogosphere buzz on the Foodbuzz Blogger Festival, in San Francisco. I've only shared a handful of the 200 plus photos.  I'm holding back uploading them, for fear you've seen enough.  However, there was a tasting of these two products at the Tyler Florence Booth at the Taste Pavilion-- which is were 350 food bloggers (including lucky "me") spent last Saturday. We were at the Metreon Theater in San Francisco to sample lots of sweet and savory dishes from purveyors. I stopped at the Tyler Florence booth and this is what I saw...

If it's a Tyler Florence recipe, is a pretty safe bet that it's going to be good.  I took a sample taste, and I liked it!  Butternut squash and apple go perfectly together.  I also liked the shortbread. So, I made a mental note that I would try making my own version of this squash and apple pairing that works so well. After researching dozens of recipes (and, no, this recipe is not on Tyler's websites. Of course it isn't! He sells this!)

I was pleasantly surprised to find this bag of prepared butternut squash at Trader Joe's. The price was just a tad more than buying a fresh squash.  After careful consideration, I decided that repeating the rubber mallet hitting the chef's knife, after peeling butternut squash didn't thrill me at all. After all, I had no idea if I was going to like my idea, so I decided to enjoy a shortcut by someone else doing the hard work.  Most soup recipes use raw apples and vegetables and cook them in the broth. There isn't a thing wrong with that! But, after the success I had in making a Roasted Carrot-Ginger Soup, I decided that roasting the squash and the apples might kick up the flavor a few notches.  I do think that roasting vegetables brings out a nuttier and richer flavor. So, that's what I decided to do:

 First, I lined a baking sheet with foil (parchment paper will do, too).  I seasoned the squash with coarse salt & some freshly cracked pepper.  Last, I drizzled a bit of olive oil and tossed the squash with my hands to coat it evenly.

I am loving my Apple Peeler-Corer-Slicer! In 10 seconds I peeled two apples. One was a Granny Smith and the other was a Gala apple.  I drizzled a little olive oil but decided not to season them.  I like to add garlic to most of my homemade soups.  But I didn't want the garlic to overpower the flavor I was hoping my soup would be.  So, I wrapped 4 cloves of garlic and drizzled with a little bit of olive oil.  I wrapped the garlic with foil and stuck it on the same baking sheet as the apples.  Why two baking sheets?  I guessed the the squash would take longer to become fork tender.  The squash and garlic was roasted at 375F for about 20 minutes. The apples got 15 minutes.


 I make a lot of soups.  My soup holy trinity is typically onion, carrots and celery (mire poix). But, I wanted this soup to be different. I debated between using shallots or leeks. I decided I would use Leek-zilla. This leek was 9" long (after cutting off the green ends) and it looked like a weapon! (This is a G-Rated blog, so be nice...)

I cut the whole leek and cut them into half-moons. Most are stored for another use, and I set aside a handful... about a cup to a cup-and-a-half.

I decided to use apple cider-- not sweetened apple juice, with high fructose corn syrup! I had a gallon of fresh pressed gala apple cider, with no sugar added.  I measured 1/2 cup of juice.  I also wanted to add white wine for some acidity.  I use Sauvignon Blanc for most of  my cooking-- 2 ounces.  Last, I decided to use 1 1/2 cups of low-sodium chicken broth.  (You could also use vegetable stock, to keep this vegetarian.) I figured I could always add more, but this was a good start.  The roasted garlic was squeezed and cooled. I cut some fresh thyme from our garden. Sage would have been delicious, but my beloved plant had died:


I like to make a "bouquet garni". Quite simply, I wrapped two bay leaves around fresh thyme and I save rubber bands that come with celery (or you could use kitchen twine).  I like being able to easily remove the herbs.  You could chop the thyme, sure. But I didn't want to see specks of green in my soup. Minor details, I know.  The prep work took about 45 minutes, but most of it was waiting for the veggies to roast. It's time to make soup!  Once again, I put a little olive oil and one pat of unsalted butter into a Dutch oven. I cooked the leeks until they were just tender-- 2-3 minutes.  I almost forgot! I like to use a potato to thicken my soups. It's a little trick I learned that works great.  I diced one small Yukon Gold potato, unpeeled.

Next, I added the roasted garlic  You could use fresh garlic, but be careful that it doesn't burn. Cook it for 30 seconds, or until fragrant. To me, roasted garlic takes on a lovely sweet and nutty flavor.  Try it, sometime.

Next, I added the roasted butternut squash, the roasted apples, the white wine and the unsweetened apple cider...

Last, I added the potatoes, the chicken broth and the bouquet garni. I covered the pot and let the soup simmer, on low, for about 30 minutes.  I removed the herbs and tossed it.  Now you can use a blender to puree this, in portions. But, why?

Meet my dear friend, Mr. Immersion Blender.  I've had this inexpensive version for 15 years and it hasn't failed me yet. Isn't it easier to puree soups in the pot you cooked it? I think so!

 The soup is fairly thick. This is all a matter of personal preference. Now to taste for seasonings...

My first taste was surprisingly good.  The soup wasn't bitter at all. Whew! A little more salt was needed, though. The apple flavor was evident, and I was glad that I didn't add nearly as much apple cider as most other recipes did.  My husband sampled it and he said it was good, but the sweet was a little more than the savory.  I decided to gamble and to add...

About 1/8 teaspoon of curry powder.  Guess what? It worked! I ended up adding another cup of chicken broth, to thin the soup out a bit more.

Ladies and gentleman-- I present to you Roasted Butternut & Apple Soup with a light curry. It's healthy, too.

VERDICT:  This soup is not bitter, in the least.  It's creamy and it doesn't have my beloved heavy cream.  The acidity of the white wine and apple cider, balances out the savory of the butternut squash.  The curry marries the sweet and savory with a very subtle "what is the wonderful flavor" in the background.  .  My husband and son liked it. I'm taking some to work tomorrow and looking forward to it. I did make shortbread crackers, which were outstanding, too!

 I really, REALLY, liked this soup!

I thank Tyler Florence's delicious soup sample that trained my palate to LIKE butternut squash.  Next, I plan to replicate a salad that was made the Foodbuzz  Blogger Festival.  It had-- gasp-- goat cheese. That was another aversion of mine, and our hometown local chef  (Todd Fisher) made me a believer that goat cheese is good!

I'm going to make this salad, next.
 
I'll be working on Fakesgiving recipes to enjoy for the next couple of weeks. I've decided, this year, to go out to a restaurant (where my son happens to work) to let someone else do the cooking and cleaning. That doesn't mean I won't be making some of our favorite holiday recipes so that we don't miss out on our own pumpkin pies and I can always roast a turkey breast for sandwiches.  

As always, a printable recipes is at the bottom of the post.








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17 comments:

Ally said...

Debbie, your soup looks delicious! I had to laugh about the precut b-squash from TJ's b/c I buy the same one when I make butternut squash - vanilla bean soup. Like you said, it's about the same cost wise and much less of a headache. :)

bellini valli said...

I really don't know how I went through life before my immersion blender Debby. Although I don't have a dislike for butternut squash there have been at least 2 things that I have retried in recent years that I found unpalatable and have retrained my tastebuds to love...mushrooms and blue cheese.

Kimberly Peterson said...

I am always impressed by your photos and presentation of your blog posts. Your soup looks delicious!! And yes, as food bloggers we are constantly challenging ourselves :)

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

I'm really glad you're a true believer now! Butternut squash soup is one of the greatest things ever, and apple makes it even better! Your soup looks delicious!

Stacey Snacks said...

I love b.n. squash! and I love the precut stuff in the bag, but it is sometimes wet and mushy. I have been buying the whole squash lately, it lasts longer!
We both have soups today, and I love my new immersion blender!

Cheryl said...

I have the same sack of Butternut Squash in my fridge from Trader Joes, what a great idea, I am making this!

Faith said...

Oh :) I just made a b-nut squash soup with curry too! (but I topped mine with bananas, cashews, scallions and coconut!)
AND an immersion blender, duh, lol if I would of told my husband to use that we wouldnt have butternut squash puree on our ceiling!

Joanne said...

Woohoo! I am so super happy that you discovered your inner winter squash lover! This soup sounds dreamy!

Allie said...

Mmmm! I am in LOVE with butternut squash, glad you came around to it :) Can you send me some of your soup in the mail? Looks delish! I am also a huge goat cheese fan, so I'm proud of you for facing your fears! Can't wait to see how that salad turns out, I wanted to try it so bad that day. I give you props for doing Thanksgiving out, very smart!

Monica H said...

This looks much better than the version we tried last weekend. I'm so glad you have found a new love for butternut squash.

You rock!

Kim said...

Debby - Congrats on coming up with such a fantastic recipe. I love the addition of apple cider in this soup, which is something that I've never seen before. It looks so delicious, perfect for fall, and I must confess that I'm in love with your soup bowls!

Cathy said...

I have a beautiful butternut squash in the fridge that is just waiting to be made into a tummy warming soup. Adding a touch of curry was a great idea and I agree about roasting veggies. It brings out so much flavor.

Your tutorials are the best, Debby. They inspire me to roll up my sleeves and make your wonderful recipes.

kelly said...

I never liked butternut squash either, and then my husband made a soup similar to this and I was converted! We eat it just about every way you can fix it now.

Danielle said...

oooh yum! I bet that apple in there is wonderful! Soup is how I discovered that I like butternut squash too LOL. See you over at Deb's Souper Sundays ;) Funny how we both submitted roasted butternut squash soup hahahha

Debinhawaii said...

Your soup looks delicious--I love that you added the curry to it and non-sweet apple juice. The combination must have been heavenly. Thanks for sending it to Souper Sundays. ;-)

Torviewtoronto said...

flavourful soup delicious

bella (roz) said...

I'll have to try this sometime; like you I've not been a big fan of butternut squash recipes. But there's always a first time for everything!