The weather is getting cooler and that means one thing: Time for soup! Back in January, I asked my readers where to get the best soup in the Raleigh area. I must have tried soup in at least 30 different places and by the time I was wrapping up my research, the days were getting warmer so I decided to wait until fall to publish my favorites. I know you’re chomping at the bit to see my recommendations, so please stay tuned.
In the meantime, I urge you to make this wonderful roasted butternut squash and red pepper soup. Butternut squash is plentiful in grocery stores right now, many of which have squash on sale. Plus it’s the end of pepper season, so now’s the perfect time to make this awesome soup. I used nonfat yogurt instead of heavy cream this time to keep it light, and loved the taste and texture. The orange peel and ginger add so much depth and flavor to this soup and next time I make it I will probably add another teaspoon of each. I recommend keeping this vegetarian and using vegetable broth instead of the chicken broth that I used (it was all I had on hand at the time.)
This was the first time I got to try out my new Cuisinart Smart Stick® Hand Blender that I bought on sale right before the kitchen remodel. I love this gadget and can’t wait to use it again! However, if you do not have an immersion blender you can use a regular one as described below.
Ingredients (Serves 4-6)
- 1 large butternut squash
- 3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil (divided in half)
- 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and membranes removed, cut into strips
- 1 cup (6 oz.) nonfat plain Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (no stems) plus a few sprigs for garnish
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated (I use my microplane for this)
- 1 tablespoon orange peel
- 1 cup sweet onion, diced small
- 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 cups chicken broth (use vegetable broth to make this vegetarian)
- Kosher salt to taste
- White ground pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut squash in half, lengthwise, and remove the seeds. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and sprinkle with half of the olive oil and salt to taste.
Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the squash is fork tender. I turned each piece over halfway through cooking time. Remove from oven and let cool. Scoop the flesh into a large bowl.
While the squash is baking, roast the red pepper. You can do this on your grill or oven under the broiler. Once the pepper is charred on both sides (about 10 minutes or so, place the slices in a plastic baggie and let cool. Remove the charred part and cut into bite-sized pieces.
Add the red pepper, yogurt, thyme, ginger, orange peel, pepper and salt to the butternut squash.
Mix well and taste to see if it needs extra seasoning.
Heat the rest of the olive oil in a large pot. Add the onions and sauté for 3 minutes or so. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
Stir in the squash mixture. Add the broth and mix together well.
Let this simmer on low for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Take your hand-held immersion blender and blend for about a minute (or pour the soup into a regular blender and puree for a minute or so. You may need to divide the soup into a few batches, depending on the size of your blender.)
Ladle into your favorite soup bowl or mug and garnish with a few springs of thyme.
Serve with some fresh bread or homemade garlic croutons.
Eat, drink and be merry!
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Looks great! I will try it…and when I do I will use an assortment of the same kinds of sambals or accompaniments that you might use with curry: raisins, shredded coconut, chopped cashews, harrisa, Italian parsley, etc. In fact, throwing some madras curry into the soup makes it even more terrific. One suggestion: if you do this, don’t serve it as an appetizer! It will kill any appetitie for meat and grilled vegetables, even if your guests are all meat-and-potato guys! I did that for a gang and what a waste of grilled vegetables and charcoaled tenderloin. Every day is a learning opportunity, right?
Jerry, I think you’ll love this. I like your suggestion about adding the curry to it and using cashews as a garnish. That’s funny about not serving as an appetizer!
Oh yeah. Almost forgot about using a chopped apple as a topping for a little texture variation. If you aren’t using immediately, a little lemon or lime juice will help keep the fresh look of the apple. And pick a crisp apple; the mealy ones do nothing for this. In fact, who besides deer eat the mealy ones?
Oooh – Honeycrisp apples would be great as a garnish! I will try this next time!
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