Roasted Garlic Butternut Squash Soup

I’ll never forget the first time I made soup by myself – mostly because it turned out terrible. I diced some vegetables, threw them in a pot of water, added a bay leaf and simmered it for less than an hour. It tasted like absolutely nothing.

Fortunately, I’ve learned a few things since then and now it’s one of my favorite topics to teach. Here are a few secrets to making your soups turn out spectacular.

Caramelize your onions. This is one of my favorite tricks. I rarely make a soup without caramelized onions. It’s an easy way to add a rich and natural sweetness to your soups – with just a few cheap, Spanish onions. Caramelize sliced or diced onions by sautéing on low heat for at least 30 minutes – I usually cook them for a solid hour. Use a stainless steel pan rather than a nonstick and stir frequently. Add a little water if it starts to stick.

Make your own stock. Phenomenal stock can turn an ordinary dish into a exceptional meal. And likewise, crappy stock can ruin a perfectly good soup. If you can’t make your own, make sure you buy a quality brand. If I don’t have homemade stock, I use Imagine’s No-Chicken Chicken Broth or check out this article at Serious Eats for other store-bought options.

Use meat drippings, bones, and leftover vegetables. If you’ve browned meat, deglaze the pan by adding a little water and scraping off the drippings for your soups. Use bones and vegetable scraps for added flavor and nutrients.

Cook it the day before you serve it. Add enough liquid to cook it down on low-heat for at least a couple of hours – the flavors will become more concentrated. Store it in the fridge in a sealed container (after it’s cooled down!) for several days. The longer it sits, the better it tastes. Soup also freezes well – store it in dinner size portions for last minute meals.

Remember to salt! When I teach my students how to make soup, I also teach them how to salt properly. I have each of them taste the soup before I salt and then afterward so that they can taste the extraordinary difference. Salt makes all of the flavors “pop.” Use kosher salt or a high-quality sea salt.

Buy an immersion blender. The best invention ever – you can purée soups and sauces right in the pot. They are also great for smoothies.

I posted this recipe on my website awhile ago but wanted to share it again here on my blog. I taught this recipe recently and one of my students moaned as she ate it and said that it “tasted like pie.”

Roasted Garlic Butternut Squash Soup

Bowl of Squash Soup Roasted garlic is totally underrated – it tastes like “butta” AND it’s good for you. I can’t tolerate heavy cream so I discovered that using whole milk plain yogurt adds just enough dairy fat to take soups to that next luscious level. Another tip: Start by roasting or sautéing your vegetables – it releases all of their succulent juices.

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 head of garlic
1 jeweled yam
2 butternut squash (about 4 pounds total)

2 tablespoons butter (or omit and just use olive oil)
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 yellow onions, thinly sliced
4 cups vegetable stock
2 cups water
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
1-2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
8 oz. whole milk plain yogurt (omit if you want to make it vegan or pareve)
1 bunch chives, diced

Preheat oven to 375°F. Cut ¼ inch off the top of garlic head to expose cloves, loosely wrap in foil, drizzle with olive oil and close up foil. Scrub yam well and pierce with a fork. With a very sharp knife, cut butternut squash in half and scoop out seeds. Place butternut squash, flesh side down, garlic and yam on a lined baking sheet. Roast garlic, yam and squash until very tender, about 1 hour.

While vegetables are roasting, heat butter and oil in a medium or large stockpot. Add onions and caramelize over low heat for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour. If the pan gets dry, add a few drops of water.

When vegetables are done roasting, peel and scoop flesh into stockpot with onions. Add stock, water, spices, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for at least 30 minutes (or up to 2 hours – the longer it simmers, the better it will taste but you may need to add more water if it gets too thick).

Turn off the heat and add yogurt. Purée using an immersion blender, food processor or blender. Add more salt and pepper if necessary. Ladle into bowls. Sprinkle with chives and serve.

This dish can be prepared 1-3 days ahead, just cool, cover and refrigerate. You can also freeze it for up to 2 months. To serve, simply reheat.

Serves 8
Active time: 30 minutes Total time: 2 hours (or more)
Recipe by Julie Negrin© 2005

Comments

susangersh writes:
 

Hi Julie,
I love these emails!
Susan from New York
I attended your classes at the JCC.
best regards.

julie writes:
 

Thanks for the note, Susan! So glad you like the newsletters. Happy Holidays!

Galit writes:
 

Julie,
Great tips! I could eat soup every single day of winter! Another tip I recently discovered is making soup (or anything) in a dutch oven. Not sure what it is (magic?), but it makes everything taste so incredibly good! The fancy french ones can cost $200+ for the large size, but I got mine at Cost Plus for $70. Plus, lugging it from the cabinet to the stove or oven is excellent for building core strength!

Mike writes:
 

Just saw your website, hope the book sells well! Anyway, I make a butternut squash soup that is a hit every thanksgiving. Somewhat similar to your ingredients except for no need for more than 1/8 cup of cream, no yam, and for the spices I just use about a tsp of sage and a Tbl of hot indian curry powder. People can’t put their finger on the flavor since they’re not used to curry, and also its a background note and not overpowering. And instead of baking the butternut I just simmer it in the stock after preparing the onions in the pot. If the soup tastes a little flat I add an acid (vinegar or lemon)

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