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How to make the best butternut squash soup?

Forget all the apples and curry and cinnamon...what's the best recipe out there that simply is just a savory super smooth soup of butternut squash? Most recipes I've attempted in the past were either too sickly sweet or too awkwardly spiced.

And the biggest problem I've always encountered is that all of my end products always ended up looking like baby food instead of silky. How do you get that incredibly creamy texture that you find in restaurant soups?

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  1. Yeah, I have the same problem this time of year in restaurants. I am sick and tired of hoidy-toidy places trying to update a basic soup that needs no such treatment. My recipe:
    1) cut butternut squash in half, scrape out seeds.
    2) place cut side down on a baking sheet and roast in oven until soft (stick a paring knfie directly into the skin).
    3) scrape out flesh into a blender or food processor
    4) start machine, and just enough canned chix stock so it will spin around in the machine.
    5) scrape into saucepan and heat to serving temp
    6) too thick? add a bit more stock
    7) no flavor? add S&P to taste
    8) DONE. DO NOT GOOF AROUND ANYMORE WITH THE SOUP!!!

    4 Replies
    1. re: jerry i h

      I do as jerry except i add one large onion cooked translucent in butter and in addition to salt and pepper some balsamic vinegar. I also like a touch of nutmeg to round it out. I then use an immersion blender on it all. I'd probably get better results in a food processor, but I'm fine with the results of the immersion blender.

      1. re: Rick

        I like balsamic vinegar in it, too. I roast the onions, though. I use a food processor and it's creamy.

        1. re: chowser

          Balsamic sounds like a yummy yet subtle addition. I'll have to try that. What do you serve with it?

          1. re: lynnlato

            Generally paninis or just some good crusty bread. I like the balsamic vinegar and creme fraiche on the soup.

    2. I use a pretty similar recipe to jerry i h. I roast seeded squash (cut in large chunks), sweet onions and garlic with a bit of broth, salt and pepper. Then I blend the roasted veggies with more broth (keeping it relatively thick - kind of baby food consistency). I add a bit of butter and cream (just a few tablespoons), adjust the seasonings and that's it. With an immersion blender this is extremely simple and the butter helps the consistency. I have had good results with the pacific organic vegetable stock and swansons (sp?) vegetable stock.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Olive123

        I make a soup along this line roughly following an Italian recipe. About the only spice is nutmeg, though I'll also add a bit of ginger. Also some parm cheese. Another interesting Italian touch is to cook some soup pasta in it (broken thin spaghetti). It adds a nice texture contrast to an otherwise very smooth soup.

        I spend the most time adjusting the salt. I gradually add salt till the flavors sort of 'pop out'. There seems to be a fine line between a bland, under salted soup, and an over salted one.

        1. re: paulj

          I tried some butternut squash at a potluck a few years ago, billed as "the best recipe" according to Cooks Illustrated. It was completely unsalted and, IMO, virtually inedible.

      2. I use the recipe for "creamy creamless squash soup" from Faith Willinger's "Red, White and Green" cookbook. Paraphrased:

        1 stalk celery, chopped
        1 carrot, chopped
        1 onion, chopped
        1 pound butternut squash, peeled and cubed (about 3 cups)
        1/2 pound boiling potatoes, peeled and cubed (about 1.5 cups)
        olive oil
        water or stock
        salt, pepper

        Saute celery, carrot, and onion in olive oil until wilted (not browned). Add squash, potatoes, and about 3.5 cups boiling water or stock. Simmer for about 20 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Blend until smooth. (I put it in a blender on "puree" for at least 2 minutes. Really. That gets it nice and silky. I think one of the main mistakes people make is not to puree thoroughly enough.) Return to pot, heat, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with garnish of olive oil or cream if you like.

        Note: I use water or homemade chicken stock, not canned. Plain water is better than canned stock!!!!

        2 Replies
        1. re: jlafler

          the secret to the creaminess & body in the Willinger recipe is the starch from the potatoes.

          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

            That's true, but the length of time on "puree" makes a difference, too.

        2. Roast the squash in the oven, saute celery, onion, garlic in oil, add the roasted squash chicken broth and a can of tomatoes cook until done then put into blender,
          You can put it through a sieve if you want it creamy smooth and you can add a little bit of butter or cream for extra richness.
          You can serve it with croutons, a dollop of sour cream or a little swirl of cream or just plain.

          1 Reply
          1. re: TDEL

            Yes. You need to strain it to get the texture the OP is describing. Cook first, then blend, then strain.

            Roast the squash
            Remove flesh to a pot and cover with water
            Add 1/2 chopped shallot & one garlic clove minced
            Simmer for 20 minutes
            Add 1 Tbsp butter, 1/3 rd cup cream
            Blend well
            Strain
            Adjust seasoning with s & p

            You'll have creamy, rich, smooth soup. Butternut squash flavor will star.

          2. I think you just need to make the version from Bouchon. It is incredible. Sauteed leeks, onions, shallots, carrots. Part of squash sauteed, other part roasted, a little garlic and a touch of honey, veg stock, puree, adjust seasonings, add stock to desired consistency. Follow the recipe for best results.

            2 Replies
            1. re: ktb615

              recipe? i'd soooo love to try this...couldn't track it down online...

            2. Suzanne Goin's Kabocha Squash and Fennel Soup with Creme Fraiche and Candied Pumpkin Seeds may not be as simple as some others, but it's definitely "the best." I've always made it with kabocha, but have read raves from those who have made it with butternut.

              http://kitchenography.typepad.com/my_...

              1. It all starts with a good stock. I usually make chicken since I make a lot of roast chicken and always have carcasses. I roast butternut squash (and sweet potatoes sometimes) and onions with nutmeg, salt, pepper. Puree when cool and add stock until it's the right consistency, taste. FInish with a dollop of creme fraiche. I taste along the line; good stock, good roasted vegetables=good soup.

                6 Replies
                1. re: chowser

                  I would downplay the importance of a meat based stock in a soup like this - unless I want 'chicken and squash' soup. Even roasting the vegetables is optional. They are legitimate ways of adding flavor, but sometimes simplicity is better.

                  Sometimes I use kabocha. I think it is a bit more flavorful and not quite a sweet. But the puree is a bit more grainy.

                  1. re: paulj

                    Good stock doesn't have to be meat based, nor did I mean to imply it. I like chicken stock and think it downplays the sweetness in the butternut squash but don't make it strong enough that the chicken is noticeable over the strong squash taste. No one has ever been able to tell there's chicken base in my soup. But a good vegetable stock works well, as long as you use more starchy vegetables and not as many sweet vegetables for the sweetness. I think roasted vegetables add a depth to the soup that boiling/steaming/etc. does not. I like the flavors of making my own stock and roasting the vegetables and I think, in my experience, it produces the "best" soup which the OP requested, not the most simplistic. But then, "best" is subjective and some people might prefer boiled. I find that butternut squash results in smooth, creamy texture, not grainy.

                    1. re: chowser

                      I meant that kabocha is somewhat grainy. Butternut is smoother.

                      1. re: paulj

                        Yes, I was unclear--I meant that the OP was looking for a super smooth soup and butternut squash gives you that whereas the kabocha doesn't.

                        1. re: chowser

                          I'm not sure I agree with that. I've made both quite a few times and, although I've never compared them side-by-side, the kabocha seemed to me to be every bit as smooth as the butternut. And I'm not doing anything fancy-schmancy with a $60 china cap. Just my immersion blender. Granted, for a good amount of time, but still.

                          1. re: JoanN

                            Sorry, I should have said the graininess was from what paulj, not from personal experience. I must be in a "read my mind" mentality right now.

                2. For silky smoothness: what you really need is a good blender, preferably a vitamix. There is no substitute.

                  For flavor: I saute onions and apples until soft, add a bit of mild curry powder, add the squash and stock, simmer all until the squash is well cooked, and then puree in the vitamix. I find that the apples and the curry powder are essential to this soup. The apples provide a nice tartness that offsets the sweetness of the squash. And of course the quality of your chicken stock matters, but a good quality supermarket chicken broth is ok.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Dylan

                    My favorite squash soup recipe must be similar to yours with onions, apples and curry powder. This year I grew Confection, a variety of Kabocha squash with seed from Johnny's. I was shocked early in the fall with how dry this squash was. It seems to have become more moist in storage and is definitely a grainer flesh than butternut. But, the major difference to me is that it is far more flavorful and sweet than a butternut variety. After seeing the photo of the silky soup with candied seeds, I will have to see if putting the soup through the food processor instead of just usinjg an immersion blender will make a silkier looking soup. I can't imagine not using curry powder. It makes the soup taste even better.

                    1. re: Dylan

                      Sheesh I'm a dummy. The original poster specified no apples or curry! I apologize for missing that. But, the Vitamix blender is a superb solution for smooth soups - it makes a big difference relative to the cuisinart or a regular blender, so I stand by that recommendation.

                      1. re: Dylan

                        My mom has a vitamix blender and I'm amazed at at well it pulverizes everything, even whole fibrous vegetables and fruits. I'd get one but they're more than I want to spend on a mixer right now.

                    2. My secret to most soups is to use bacon grease to sautee onions at the beginning. This works great for butternut squash soup.

                      1. Don't just cook the butternut, blast-roast it to really get a deep, rich caramelized flavor. Peel and seed, then cut into 1" chunks. Toss with a little olive oil and S&P, turn into a roaster (or any baking dish in which the squash is a single layer), then cook at 450 (yes, 450) for 35 - 45 min, till it's falling-apart soft and has brown spots here and there. Deglaze the roaster with about a cup of really good stock (the other key step), then puree (probably in batches) with stock and return to bowl or pot to adjust the seasoning and the consistency. I use about a quart of stock to a 2 - 3 lb butternut. Sorry, I can't offer any advice about the texture but this method guarantees great flavor.

                        1. I think I've posted this link here before, but my favorite butternut squash soup includes parmesan rinds and creme fraiche for a wonderful savory flavor. The soup is creamy but can be on the thick side, so you may need to thin it with additional chicken broth to achieve the consistency you are looking for. I agree with other posters that the key to a silky soup is in the puree. If you want it ultra silky then it would be necessary to strain it.

                          http://www.phoo-d.com/2008/12/buttern...

                          Phoo-D

                          1. I made some today for dinner tonight. I roasted the squash then added it to some chicken stock put in some fresh sage leaves and about 2Tbsp of pure maple syrup. I am going to add some heavy cream before I serve it. It taste really good and I still haven't added the cream yet.

                            1. This is the recipe I love, comes out smooth even though I replace the cream with milk.
                              http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/mem...