Lekker: Momma's Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Hello all, and TGIF! I suppose since it's a Friday I should have a fancy featured cocktail recipe of some sort but I've been sitting on this one for a few days and wanted to share it. I have ALSO been challenged to dream up a Mac-and-Cheese Martini, so that's bouncing around in my head for the future. If YOU have something you want me to attempt, e-mail me at SouthAfricanBokkie@gmail.com--I do love a challenge!

So, let me preface this recipe by saying that it is just slightly more complex than some of my other recipes. It doesn't require any special skills, but it'll take just over an hour to complete and requires two "specialized" tools (if you want to call them that) that aren't reeeeeeally that specialized: a citrus zester (though you might be able to get away with the really really fine holes on a cheese grater) and an immersion blender or a regular blender. If you don't have an immersion blender and you're a regular cook, I highly suggest you get one. KitchenAid I think makes one for like $30 and I've found it to be immensely useful over the years for all sorts of soups, sauces, pestos, etc. But, you can of course use a regular blender for this as well.

This particular recipe is very near and dear to my heart because it is the creation of my dear sweet Mamon. I suppose most memories take on a bit of a rose-hued patina after someone you love dies, but beyond my personal connection with this recipe it's just really GOOD and unique. Many people don't realize what a beautiful soup butternut can make, and most recipes call for a curry taste while this one is so bright and fresh it's almost like springtime. That's why I serve it year-round, really. Wanna give it a shot? Course you do, it's damn delicious.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
makes enough for 2 people, IMO
total time: this took me exactly 1 hour and 10 minutes to do, so basically one episode of Orange Is The New Black

What You Need
1 butternut squash, about 2 pounds (or 2 pounds' worth of pre-cut butternut if you can find it...but it's not as good as fresh!)
1 medium onion
Dash or two of white wine
~2 cups of chicken broth or stock
1 orange (normally I give options for lazy people substitutions but not here! This is a must!)
3 T sour cream
vegetable or canola oil
salt & pepper
fresh or dried parsley, to taste

Optional Garnishes: I like a little bit of textural contrast in my soups so I typically top it with a handful of croutons. If you want more creaminess or tang, use a dollop more of sour cream or try crème fraîche. Want a kick? Add a drizzle of sriracha, which looks pretty against the bright yellow too. Or if you really want to be utterly decadent (who doesn't?) you can fry up some bacon or panchetta and top it with THAT. Now that is delicious.

Anyway, 'nough of that. We have to actually MAKE it first before we go garnishing away.

What You Do
1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. First thing you have to do is process your butternut into manageable 1-inch chunks and this is the most time consuming part. BE CAREFUL. Use a sharp chef's knife and go slow, cutting it into circles first and then slicing off the skin. (You may want to use a smaller paring knife for that part.) Scoop out the seeds and discard. Chop up into 1-inch pieces and toss with the oil and salt and pepper to get it nicely seasoned. Spread them out evenly on a baking sheet lined with foil and place in the oven for about 10 minutes.

 Look how pretty!

Something like this. My hand slipped on the oil decanter so this is a bit over-oiled; don't do that because I had to use tongs to put the pieces in the pot to avoid everything becoming an oily mess. Pain in the ass.

2. While that's going, heat a tablespoon of oil (or butter if you want for this stage) in a large pot over medium heat. Dice up the onion and fry it up until it gets all...golden and nice smelling. You can add the wine at this stage; any kind will do but I'm usually drinking Sauvignon Blanc and no, I don't measure, I just tip my wineglass over until I think it's enough. If I was pinned against the wall to give a measurement, I guess I'd say 1/4 of a cup? Little more? What do I know, I'm pinned up against a wall and thinking about other things.

Ahem. Moving on.

3. OK so your onion is sizzling nicely on the stove with the wine and if the buzzer has gone off for your butternut it's time to take it out, give it a quick toss and put it back in for another 10 minutes. You want them to roast up nicely without drying out, so just use your judgement. I'll admit that the original recipe called for simply boiling the butternut, but I find that roasting it gives it such a fantastic depth of flavour that I don't think I'll ever boil it again. At this point you can add the chicken stock to the pot and bring it up to a slow boil. Get to work zesting the entire orange (putting the zest aside to add in a second) and juicing it; you'll want to strain it to get rid of the pulp.

 Since you're zesting, find an orange with a really nice, bright orange healthy skin color. Bonus points if you use a South African navel orange!

4. BZZZT. Squash is done, right? Good. Add it to the pot along with the fresh orange juice and orange zest and go to town with that immersion blender. You want it to be really nicely blended with no chunks. If you're opting to use a blender here, you may have to work in smaller batches and just please for the love of God BE CAREFUL, it is a hot mixture and it will go into a glass container that will also immediately become hot. Now that it's all blended it's time to taste. Adjust salt and pepper to your liking and add parsley for color at this stage, too. Feel free to tweak the amount of chicken stock depending on how thick or thin you like your soups. Let it all simmer together for another 5-10 minutes while you toast up some French bread to serve alongside it, or make a salad or drink another glass of wine. If it's all yummy and bright and spring-y, you can take it off the heat now and stir in the sour cream. Serve right away. Bathe in praise and adoration from your dinner guests.

That's it! In my opinion it's totally worth the work and I always get rave reviews when I make this. Hope you do too.

Posted on August 16, 2013 .