Now replace that "someone" with a "something" (a particular sweet, nutty, buttery fruit) and you have my initial feelings toward butternut squash.
It all started about a year and a half ago. I found myself at a tiny, local bistro with my roommate Lisa and a couple of other girls. I had never been, but I'm always looking forward to trying new places. When I heard that butternut squash soup and watermelon & feta salad were on the menu, I didn't know what to think. "What the whatttt? Watermelon & feta, together?? With olive oil AND pepper?? Butternut squash soup?? What does a butternut squash even look like??"
Not to mention, the only time I had ever really paid any attention at all to butternut squash is when Joey on F.R.I.E.N.D.S says "Remember when Ross tried to say butternut squash and it came out "squatternut bosh?" (Yes, it's my favorite TV show. And yes, I quote it a lot.)
Needless to say, I ordered the butternut squash soup and the watermelon & feta salad, and completely fell in love with both. I knew that I'd soon have to make my own version of the soup, which led me to come up with this.
And you have to pair it with pear & goat cheese crostinis! I didn't have these at the bistro, but anytime I have soup, I like to have some sort of bread on the side. I had goat cheese just sitting in the fridge one day, so I decided to toast up some slices of french bread, spread on softened goat cheese, add shavings of fresh pear, and hoped that it would go well with the soup.
It. was. amazing. I could eat these endlessly, so when I make them, I only make a small amount at a time. My self control weakens immensely when it comes to food. And if you dip the crostini in the warm soup.... heaven!!
yield: ~14 cups
- 2 butternut squash, decent size (~6 lbs total)
- 1 bosc pear
- 1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
- 4-5 cloves of garlic, roughly minced
- EVOO (enough to coat bottom of pot)
- 2 pinches nutmeg
- 1 pinch cinnamon
- 1 pinch cloves
- 2 teaspoons of dried sage
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 7 1/2 cups chicken stock/broth (can also use bouillon cubes or vegetable stock)
- Extra nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves if you prefer
- Chives for garnish, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Rinse the pear and set aside. Rinse & peel the squash and cut off the ends. Slice it vertically down the middle, scoop out the seeds, then cut into cubes. Toss with vegetable oil and lay out squash on a sheet pan. Coat the pear in a little oil also, and place on a separate pan. Bake for 30 minutes.
A few minutes before the squash is done, heat up EVOO in a large pot. Roughly chop the yellow onion and the garlic (it doesn't have to be perfect because you'll be pureeing this anyway) and add to the pot. Add salt & pepper, nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon. Cook until soft/translucent, ~10 minutes.
Once the squash & pear are done, remove from the oven. (Just as a side note, the squash tastes so good at this point. I must've eaten a good 4 or 5 pieces while I was waiting.) The pear is going to be very hot on the inside, so I let it cool down while the onions/garlic are still cooking. Peel, core, and roughly cube the pear. Add the pear and squash to the pot and toss with onions/garlic. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Once at a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 20-25 minutes or until squash is very soft. About half way through, taste the stock. If you think it needs more spices, add a little more. I add more, but I know some people prefer to leave it out. Let your taste buds decide :) Sometimes I also like to add dried sage (~ 2 tsp or so) as it's cooking, or I'll just add a pinch to my bowl when I'm ready to eat it. Either way, I wouldn't skip out on the sage!
Note: If you don't cook the squash long enough, your soup will be gritty once you puree it, so test a piece of the squash before you're ready to turn off the heat :)
After the squash is cooked thoroughly, turn off the heat (I also take my pot off of the burner.) Using the immersion blender (and following the manufacturer's instructions), puree until soft and smooth. Serve immediately, or let it cool down and refrigerate for up to 3 days. If you have any left over after that, you can freeze it.
My grandparents are always asking me when I'll be making this soup again. When I first brought them some last year, they couldn't stop raving about it to all of their friends. It was so sweet, they really are the cutest! I love them with every ounce of me.
So if grandma and grandpa Centola are all about this soup, then you can guarantee you'll love it! It's definitely one of my fall staples, and I hope it will become one of yours too.