It’s been a long week, and tonight I wanted the comfort of time in the kitchen. I wasn’t sure what to make, so I took stock of what I had on-hand. I had leftover baked sweet potatoes in the fridge, and a small butternut squash – this seemed the perfect start to satisfying autumn soup (and assures me of leftovers that I can share or enjoy over the next few days).
I don’t care for summer squash (to put it mildly), but love almost all winter squash. Butternut is one of my favorites, and I never like it more than I do in soup. I’ve cooked a lot of variations of butternut squash soup. For tonight, I opted for a purely vegetarian version that combined the sweetness of the squash and sweet potatoes (along with a little bit of honey) with some kick from smoked Spanish paprika. I wanted a really creamy soup, so I used one of my favorite substitutions: nonfat evaporated milk instead of heavy cream.
Preparing the squash is pretty easy. You steam the (cut) squash first, which makes quick work of cutting away the outer skin.
Start with :
- 1 small butternut squash.
Cut into quarters, then scrape out the seeds and membranes (reserve these). Cut each quarter into two more pieces (for 8 pieces total).
Warm a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, then add:
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2-3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
Sautee, stirring constantly for 1-2 minutes until fragrant, then add:
- 1 small sweet onion (I use Vidalia onions when they are in season), chopped
Reduce heat to medium then cook, stirring frequently, for another 3-4 minutes until the onions are starting to get soft, then add to the pan:
- reserved seeds and fibers from the squash
- 1 tsp. salt (I use kosher salt or sea salt)
saute another 3-4 minutes, then add to the pan:
- 6 cups liquid; I used half white wine and half water, but you can use just water if you prefer.
Bring to a boil, then insert steamer basket into the liquid and add squash pieces to the basket. Cover, reduce heat, and steam for 20 minutes or so, until the squash is tender. Remove from heat, and remove the squash from the pan until cool enough to handle. In the meantime, strain out the solids and return the cooking liquid to the pan.
Once the squash is cool enough to handle, use a sharp paring knife to cut the flesh from the thin outer skin. Return the flesh to the pan. Add:
- 3/4 pound baked sweet potato, peeled – steamed sweet potato would be fine also.
Puree the broth, squash and sweet potato until smooth. You can do this in the pan with an immersion blender, or transfer it in batches to a food processor or blender. Over low heat, add:
- 3/4 cup nonfat evaporated milk
- 2 Tbsp. honey
I prepared a nice sauce of yogurt and smoked paprika to go with it. Just stir together in a small bowl:
- 1/2 cup nonfat or low-fat plain greek yogurt
- 2 Tbsp. lime juice
- 1 tsp. smoked paprika
Serve the soup with a dollop of the yogurt sauce, and (if desired) dusted with ground white pepper and nutmeg.