There is something magical about roasted butternut squash. Its orange flesh softens into sweet, nutty squidginess, which is easily transformed into a puree. It’s hard to believe something so rich and sugary can be loaded with nutrients and beta carotene, but so it is. One cup of butternut squash provides a glutton’s worth of vitamins A and C, as well as a healthy shot of potassium, manganese and fiber.
When roasted, its natural sugars are coaxed out and gently caramelized, accentuating the squash’s inherent nutty flavor. In this recipe, roasted butternut squash mingles with its fall buddies -- apples, cider and loads of warming spices -- yielding an essential autumn soup.
Serve the soup as a starter to any meal, or dress it up in little shot glasses as a fancy starter when entertaining a crowd. It’s a great way to kick off the holiday season.
Curried Apple and Butternut Squash Soup
Active Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Yield: Makes 4 to 6 large bowl servings or 16 to 18 small appetizer shots, depending on size of glass
1 medium butternut squash, about 2 pounds
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, diced
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup apple cider
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 to 2 teaspoons salt, to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Creme fraiche or sour cream for garnish
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Lightly brush the exposed flesh with olive oil. Place squash, cut-side-down, on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until the flesh is fork-tender, 50 to 60 minutes. Remove from oven and cool slightly. When cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh and set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until softened without coloring, 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the apple, curry powder, cumin, coriander and cayenne. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the roasted squash and chicken stock. (There should be just enough stock to cover the squash and apples. If needed, add additional stock to cover.) Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover the pot, and simmer until the apples are very soft, about 20 minutes.
Carefully puree the soup in batches in a food processor (or with an immersion blender). Return the soup to the pot and stir in the apple cider, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Warm thoroughly over medium-low heat and taste for seasoning. Serve warm, garnished with a small spoonful of creme fraiche.
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