Dinner

By Tara O'Keeffe | March 3, 2011

Photo: Tara O’Keeffe

Soup is the perfect weekend cooking activity-in one pot you can combine endless ingredients to create a hearty and healthy meal that can feed you for a week.

A vegetable soup is a great way to stretch your dollar and get your fill of vitamin-rich veggies, and no vegetable works better in a soup than butternut squash.

In this soup, the sweet flavor of butternut squash and apples is augmented by the fragrant allspice then roasted until tender and caramelized. Balanced by the savory flavors of curry powder, leeks, onion, and garlic, this soup takes on a flavor that is both sweet and savory, with a delicious punch of spice, and a smooth, velvety texture that is brought together with tangy creme fraiche.

The fun (and tasty) part about this soup is not only its delicious base, but the variety of toppings that give it texture and added bursts of flavor. In this recipe, crunch comes from a few ingredients-sweet, toasted shredded coconut, salted cashews, and bright green scallions-all of which compliment the sweet and spicy flavors found inside. Finished with a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar for acidity, this simple vegetable soup is quickly transformed into something really special, and worthy of your weekend afternoon.

To get the perfect texture, puree the soup in batches using a high-speed blender or running it through a food mill. You could also use a food processor fitted with a steel blade or an immersion blender, but I would recommend passing it through a fine mesh strainer afterwards to remove any lumps.

Recipe adapted from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics, 2008

Tara O’Keeffe is a food writer and founder of FunFearlessFoodie.com

Roasted Curried Butternut Squash and Apple Soup Recipe

Servings: Makes 4 quarts

Ingredients

  • 2 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into medium chunks
  • 2 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, cut into large chunks
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Ground allspice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, large dice
  • 1 large leek(white part only), large dice
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 quarts (8 cups) chicken stock(preferably homemade) or chicken broth
  • 1 cup creme fraicheor sour cream
For Serving:
  • Shredded sweetened coconut, lightly toasted
  • Salted cashews
  • Scallions(white and green parts) sliced on the bias
  • Aged balsamic vinegar

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2, Spread the cubed squash and apples onto two sheet trays, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with allspice, salt, and pepper, and toss to coat evenly. Place in the oven and roast until the squash and apples are tender and caramelized, about 25 to 30 minutes.

3. While the vegetables are roasting, melt the butter in a Dutch oven or heavy bottom stock pot over medium heat. Add the curry powder and stir well to toast and release its flavor. Add the onions and leeks and saute until softened. Add the garlic and continue to saute until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Pour in the chicken stock, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until your vegetables are ready to come out of the oven. This allows the stock to reduce slightly and infuse with the flavor base. If it appears to be reducing too fast, turn down your heat.

4. Add your roasted vegetables to the stock, increase heat, bring to a boil, and then turn off the heat. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then begin to puree, in batches, in a high speed blender (or other method listed above), adding the purred batch to a clean pot, or other container while you clean out your original pot. The mixture should be smooth, velvety, and free of any lumps. Return the pureed soup back to the stove and bring to a simmer. Stir in the creme fraiche until fully incorporated, adding more if needed to achieve a creamy texture. Season to taste with salt and pepper, adding more curry powder if desired.

5. Serve hot soup in a large bowl and garnish with coconut, cashews, scallions, and balsamic. Freeze leftover soup in plastic containers with a tight fitting lid, it should freeze well for up to 1 month.

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