I’ve been on a roll lately. The past few recipes I’ve prepared have been stellar. I never knew I was capable to developing such flavor. I’m truly thankful for what I’m being taught.
In today’s post, I’m going to share a classic butternut squash soup recipe. The very first time I ever tasted butternut squash soup was when I visited my uncle’s house in upstate New York for Thanksgiving. I know, I’m ashamed to say this. I was probably around 25 years old. Where in the world have I been?
Anyway, I’ll always remember the velvety smooth texture and the intense flavor of that soup. It was utterly delicious. I believe he told me that he used a recipe from Williams-Sonoma. I did a quick search for this soup on their site and I found something here. For years, Laura and I have been making different variations of the same recipe.
As I mentioned in my previous two recipe posts, I’m in the midst of completing a trio of Steaming & Poaching pieces of wonder. My favorite, so far, has been the Poached Salmon with Herb, Honey & Caper Vinaigrette Recipe. That was to die for. I’ll surely prepare that dish again.
With each of the previous recipes, I used a different cooking technique. First, I steamed in foil packets. After that, I shallow poached and now, I full out steam. What I’m discovering is that steaming and poaching fish and vegetables is a really great method to maintain flavor in whatever it is that you’re preparing. In my opinion, it’s much more effective than boiling or traditional poaching because you lose very little flavor to the liquid you’re using. Today’s recipe is what really put me over the top. After steaming and tasting the butternut squash I used for this dish, I realized that it had kept almost all of its sweet deliciousness. I couldn’t have been happier. I encourage you to try this recipe out. It’s not all too involved and the ingredients won’t set you back at all.
Lastly, I’d like to give credit where credit is due. Like I mentioned above, this is the third and final recipe in the Steaming & Poaching course over at America’s Test Kitchen. I highly recommend this resource for learning how to cook.
Below, I’ll cover what you’ll need to complete this recipe and then I’ll talk about the steps involved in making it.
4 Tablespoons (Half Stick) Unsalted Butter
1 Large Shallot
3 Pound Butternut Squash
6 Cups Water
Regular Table Salt
1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
1 Teaspoon Brown Sugar
Pinch Ground Nutmeg
As I mentioned above, there really isn’t too much to this recipe. The essence of it is this: develop some very flavorful liquid, steam the squash with that liquid, puree the squash and liquid together and then add a bit of creaminess to your result. That’s it.
I know I mentioned this somewhere on this blog – I am falling in love with shallots. They’re mild flavor is working out extremely well in places I would’ve traditionally used onions. And their uniqueness shines through. I can truly taste them in every recipe I use them. It’s remarkable.
For this recipe, I chopped the large shallot. We took some photos of two of them, but please rest assured that I only used the large one. Not that using more than one would hurt at all. It’s just that the recipe didn’t call for two.
I’ve got a new method for chopping as well. First, I slice lengthwise all the way through.
Then, I cut vertically.
And this is what I get. Some nicely and evenly chopped shallots that are really fun to photograph.
Cut & Clean Butternut Squash
I’m going to tell you something here that I’m not sure is good or bad. Laura and I purchased a butternut squash about a week ago. It’s been sitting on our countertop since we got it. Now, I have no idea how long it takes for this type of squash to go bad, but what I do know is that the one I used for this recipe was extremely sweet. The shell was still firm, so I’m confident that it was fine to use, but I suspect that by having this piece of fruit sitting out for a week, we allowed it to sweeten up. I’m just putting that out there. I can’t seem to find any resource that corroborates what I’m telling you here, so if you have any experience with this type of phenomenon, please let me know.
Anyway, the squash needs to be cut into 4 pieces. To accomplish this, I first cut it lengthwise.
After I had two large pieces, I cleaned out the stringy material, along with the seeds.
Finally, I cut the two cleaned pieces in half vertically.
Melt Butter & Soften Shallots
This is where the flavor development begins. I added the butter, along with the chopped shallot to a large pot and heated to medium-low. The original recipe calls for using a Dutch oven and one of those collapsible steamers, but since I don’t have that type of steamer, I used the trusted pot/steamer setup that I already have. It made no difference.
I stirred and cooked that mixture for about 4 minutes.
Add Squash Seeds to Pot
When that was looking good, I added the seeds and the other material that I scraped out of the squash earlier. I kept the same heat and stirred and cooked for another 4 minutes.
I found this step to be interesting. I always knew that the stringy material added a lot of flavor to roasted pumpkin seeds, but never thought about adding the butternut squash equivalent to something like this.
Add Water & Bring to Boil
When the ingredients seemed to be coming together and started to smell nice, I added 6 cups of clean Maine water, covered the pot and brought to a boil over high heat. I happen to live in Maine, so I threw that in there. Use whatever water you have. I also added 1 teaspoon of regular table salt.
Steam the Squash
When the mixture in the pot began to boil, I reduced the heat to medium-low and added the 4 pieces of squash to my steamer. When they were positioned the way I wanted them, I added the steamer to my pot and covered everything. I let them steam for about a half hour, or until they were tender.
Once they were tender, I removed them from the steamer and let them sit out to cool.
Peel the Squash
It’s important to take this step only when the squash is cooled enough to handle. There’s little more annoying than playing hot potato with squash that burns your hands because of impatience.
The original recipe calls for scooping the flesh of the squash from the skin. I did that for the two lower pieces, but I generally find that to be a messy ordeal. For the two straighter pieces, I used my knife to cut the skin off. Here is the result of that.
At the end, I had an entire plate full of soft orange material that tasted mighty fine.
Strain the Liquid
If you taste a spoonful of the liquid that’s been boiling, I think you’ll be taken aback by the flavor that’s been developed. It’s actually really good.
At this point, I had the plateful of squash and I needed the liquid strained. I used one of the Bellemain strainers I purchased this week and our glass bowl for the job.
I had the larger material ready to be discarded.
And I ended up with between 3-4 cups of liquid, which was perfect.
Puree the Ingredients
After I cleaned out the pot to prepare it for the return of the ingredients, I pureed everything together in our blender. It took two batches (probably should have taken three), but I did it.
After blending for a while, I found the mixture to be as smooth as butter. I poured what I had back into the pot.
Add Cream, Brown Sugar, Nutmeg & Butter
At this point, I knew I was rounding third and was almost home. I added the 1/2 cup of heavy cream, the pinch of nutmeg, the teaspoon of brown sugar and the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter.
And I stirred together over medium-low until the butter melted and all the ingredients came together.
Finally, I salted to taste and added a bit of ground black pepper.
I’m almost finished writing this post and Laura is still in the kitchen taking photos. Here is what I have of the finished product so far. It tastes very, very good.
And here are the two remaining final photos. If you do prepare this recipe, please report back here to let me know what you think.
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