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Effervescent storyteller.

Welcome to My Modern Diary, an electronic journal filled with tales of nostalgic cuisine, wistful wanderings & personal recollections by Sarah Orman.

Butternut squash soup

Butternut squash soup

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One of my favorite ingredients to make an appearance at the farmers market throughout autumn and winter is the humble butternut squash. Not particularly attractive and a major headache to peel and cut, the end result from this much-loved fruit {yes, it's a fruit not a vegetable} is always worth scraping dried starchy orange flesh from my hands for days : )

This particular recipe has been part of my autumn arsenal for several years now. I first discovered the perfect pairing of warm spices with the sweet nutty flesh of butternut squash during my 18-month stint as a restaurant manager here in Washington D.C. Served as a delicately small yet explosively flavorful amuse-bouche during the fall, I begged Chef for the recipe, desperate to re-create the rich, comforting soup for myself at home.

Image courtesy of Jodi Miller Photography

Anyone who's ever asked a celebrated Chef for a closely-guarded recipe knows that recreating the magic in your own kitchen is near to impossible, especially when you know deep down that he or she shared only the gist of the instructions, leaving out one or two "secret" ingredients or failing to fully disclose an important technique.

My immediate challenge with Chef Emmanuel's recipe was the quantity; the recipe he passed on was enough to feed a small army! After my first attempt, I had enough soup to feed our entire condo unit, twice. I still laugh to myself when I think about how I paused to ponder the required weight of diced squash as I scribbled out my grocery list {5 lbs is a lot of squash}.

Several years later with a tweak here and there and this recipe has been perfected.

As the weather starts to cool and the leaves begin to change, this is one of the first dishes my husband asks for. I usually make a big pan at Halloween and we've often served it while entertaining family and friends. It's terribly unhealthy, but then isn't everything from late October through March?

Butternut squash soup
Recipe Type: Appetizer
Author: Sarah Orman
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: Serves 6
Ingredients
  • 2 large butternut squash approximately 2lb each, peeled and roughly diced into 3cm cubes
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 5-6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 small onions, diced
  • 4 oz {113g} unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • Approximately 8 cups chicken stock
  • 6 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground all spice
  • 1/2 tsp ginger powder
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Sour cream for garnish
  • A handful of pumpkin seeds for garnish
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F {176 °C}. Arrange peeled and diced squash evenly in a roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil.
  2. Nestle peeled garlic cloves between the diced squash.
  3. Season the squash and garlic with sea salt, ground black pepper and fresh thyme leaves. Cover with aluminum foil and roast for 35-40 minutes until squash is soft when pierced with a sharp knife.
  4. Melt butter gently in a large saucepan {large enough to hold all of the soup}. When it is just beginning to sizzle, add diced onion and saute for 3-5 minutes until softened and translucent.
  5. Add cooked squash and toss to coat.
  6. Slowly pour hot chicken stock over the onions and squash {I use homemade, however, a chicken bouillon base will work also}.
  7. Add ground cinnamon, all spice, ginger powder, nutmeg and maple syrup to the hot stock and stir to combine.
  8. Slowly bring to a low boil and simmer for approximately 30 minutes.
  9. Puree soup with a hand blender or alternatively, ladle the soup into a food processor in batches.
  10. Once blended to a smooth puree, incorporate heavy cream and simmer for 20 minutes until piping hot.
  11. Serve in warm bowls and garnish with sour cream and pumpkin seeds.

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