In my house during the winter months, butternut squash soup always wins honors at the table. It’s hearty, creamy, and a super-simple way to eat local and seasonal when it grows chilly outside. Having received a distress call from my mom the other day who was upset that her soup “didn’t look like the one on the TV”, it seemed a fitting occasion to share a few tricks of the trade to achieve a sinfully silky butternut soup.
Prepared like a run-of-the-mill cream soup (see the recipe below), the pot of tender vegetables – while delicious – is hardly a sight for starving eyes when it’s finished cooking. It’s a trip to the blender (NOTE: not the food processor – the blender) that starts the soup’s journey to success. The blender jar’s shape and blade position create a super-strong conical pureeing machine, sufficiently satisfying step one: a good smooth puree.
To turn smooth into silky smooth, run the soup first through a fine mesh sieve. Using a ladle or rubber spatula, press as much of the soup as you can through the mesh while leaving the chunky (read: aesthetically undesirable) parts behind. As you see your perfectly creamy creation taking shape, guild the lily just before serving with a pat of cold butter. The soup’s residual heat with melt the butter and give it a smooth, glossy sheen – both to the eyes and to the mouth.
And voila! Your go-to winter soup just took an upgrade from paper napkin to white tablecloth.
Curried Butternut Squash Soup
If you’re not too big on curry, go ahead and leave it out. I enjoy the subtle notes of spice and heat that it imparts, but if it’s not your thing, then no harm done.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 stalks celery, roughly chopped
- 1 large onion, roughly chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons fresh (or 1 teaspoon dried) oregano
- 1 large butternut squash, sedded, peeled, and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 3 cups vegetable or chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons cold butter
Place a medium pot over medium-high heat with 2 turns of the pan of oil, about 2 tablespoons. Add the celery, onion, garlic, and spices to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the oregano, squash, and stock to the pot and bring the liquids up to a bubble. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the squash is tender, about 15 minutes.
Working in batches, carefully puree the cooked vegetables and broth in a blender. (NOTE: When pureeing hot liquids, remove the “pour spout cap” from the lid of the blender jar. Rest the lid lightly on the opening of the jar and hold it in place with a kitchen towel that has been folded over a couple of times. Hot liquids WILL spatter in a blender – this will contain them.) As each batch finishes pureeing, press it through a fine mesh strainer. Reserve warm in a pot.
Just before serving, stir in the cold butter until melted.
Patrick W. Decker’s life revolves around food. Always has. Probably always will. As a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and past member of the culinary team on Rachael’s daytime talk show, he now works as a food stylist and producer in NYC by day, and a food writer and recipe developer at his home in New York’s Hudson Valley by night. You can see what he’s up to by following his latest twEATs on Twitter at @patrickwdecker or visiting his website at patrickdecker.com.