Oh September, how I love you. It’s still bike to the beach weather, but a bowl of steaming soup on the deck afterwards sounds equally amazing. Though I look forward to summer each year, it’s the crisp days of early fall that really have my heart. There are stray leaves in crimson and gold that crunch underfoot when we go for a walk, but not so many yet that weekends are spent raking. As those of you who have been reading Kitchen Beet for awhile know, I’m smitten with soup season, and all food that makes our home smell inviting. I’ve made this soup countless times over the years, tweaking here and there to get to this healthy, delicious version.
Do yourself a favor and add this to the menu plan, or make it on a whim when the flavors of cinnamon and ginger sound particularly appealing and you have a butternut squash from the market sitting on the counter. This serves four, so you’ll want to double it if you have a larger crew.
As I note in the ingredient list, you can use either heavy cream or canned coconut milk to give this a creamy finish. The latter will keep the soup vegan (when you also use vegetable stock instead of chicken); it’s naturally gluten-free.
Butternut Squash Soup with Apple-Nut-Chive Relish
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 cup yellow onion, diced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
2 carrots, diced
1 (2 lb.) butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced (about 6 cups)
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1/4 cup heavy cream or 1/2 cup canned coconut milk (vegan option)
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped and toasted
1 small Honeycrisp (or other crisp apple), cored and diced
1 tablespoon jalapeno, minced
1/3 cup chives, minced
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1/2 tesapoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Heat coconut oil in a Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Add onion and saute for 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add carrots, squash, cinnamon, sea salt and black pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
Add 3 cups of broth. You should just cover the veggies. (You don’t want them floating in lots of broth.) If you have squash that doesn’t have any liquid on it, add a little more. Bring to a boil, then decrease heat. Let simmer for 20 – 25 minutes. The squash should be tender, almost falling apart when it is done.
While the soup simmers, it’s a good time to make the relish. This flavorful combo really takes the soup to the next level, so don’t skip it!
Toast a cup of chopped walnuts or pecans in a 350 F oven for 3 – 4 minutes, or in a skillet on a stove. Core and dice a small apple and add to a small bowl. Mince jalapeno and chives and add to bowl. Squeeze half a fresh lime and add a tablespoon of pure maple syrup to the mixture. Top with sea salt, pepper and freshly toasted nuts. Give a good stir to mix and set aside.
Back to the soup. Add your grated ginger and stir. Next, you’ll want to use an immersion blender to blend your soup to a smooth texture. If you don’t have an immersion blender, just use a regular blender and puree the soup in batches.
Return soup to the pot. Stir in the cream or canned coconut milk and maple syrup, then taste. If needed, add a little more salt and pepper.
Happy autumn, home cooks!