It’s around this time of year that I finally get to pull out my soup pot and leave it on the counter within arms reach, a sign that the cool autumn weather is officially here to stay. With its luscious orange hue and creamy texture, it’s no wonder that butternut squash soup is a quintessential favorite. There are many versions; this one plays up the natural sweetness of the squash, enhanced with a judicious amount of spice. I love two practical things about this recipe. First, it’s a pantry-driven recipe, meaning that I have most of the ingredients on hand in my kitchen, save the squash. Second, it only takes about 30 minutes to prep. The real magic happens in the simmering pot and in those final moments of tweaking the flavor with a splash of fresh lemon juice and maple syrup.
2 TB olive oil
2 TB butter
1 large yellow onion, chopped (1 ½ cups)
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cumin
1 tsp Kosher salt, plus more to taste
2 tsp freshly minced or grated ginger
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes (a two-pound squash, or about 5 cups)
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into ½ inch dice (1 cup)
1 apple, cored, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (1 cup)
3 cups vegetable broth (low sodium or sodium free)
2 cups water
1-2 tsp maple syrup
1-2 tsp fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
¼ cup toasted pumpkin seeds
Heat the oil and butter in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and 1 teaspoon of salt, and cook uncovered for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are tender, but not browned.
Add the ginger and stir for about 1 minute to release the flavor.
Turn the heat up to high, add 1 cup of broth, bring to a boil and deglaze the pot, scraping up any bits that stick to the bottom. Reduce the liquid to half, and then add the squash, carrots, apple, the remaining 2 cups of broth and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, skim any foam from the surface and then reduce the heat to a simmer.
Cover the pot and cook for about 30 minutes, until squash and carrots are fork tender. Let the soup cool slightly. Then, remove and set aside 1 cup of the liquid and puree the soup, in batches if necessary, using a blender or food processor. It should be a bit thick and slightly sweet. Add more of the reserved liquid to create the consistency that you like.
Transfer the pureed soup back to a clean pot, and then add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of maple syrup. The acidity of the lemon and sweetness of the syrup will help draw out the subtle spices and flavor. Add freshly ground pepper and additional salt, if desired. Give it a taste, add a bit more lemon and syrup if you think the soup could still use a little flavor boost. When ready to serve, heat the soup thoroughly, ladle into bowls and top with toasted pumpkin seeds.