Thursday, November 27, 2008

Butternut Squash Soup

There's no more denying that winter is coming. The irrational side of me was hoping that with enough wishful thinking I would be able to will winter away. Nothing like a few days of snow to kick me out of denial. So, what better to do than make soup?

I had been starring a bunch of squash soups, like Sunita's Roasted Butternut Squash, Peppers and Leek Soup, Alosha's Winter Squash Soup with Gruyere Croutons (I still plan to try the croutons), Recipe Girl's Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Apples & Garam Masala. All of them look terrific and am adding links to them here for both your reference and mine.

In the end, I decided to go with a recipe posted by Zen Chef at Chefs Gone Wild. Originally from France, Zen Chef works in New York as a personal chef for some rich dude. Reading his blog, you get to live vicariously through the him while he shows you the kitchen side of a home in the Hamptons.

Butternut Squash Soup with Spiced Apple Compote

(serves 8)

For the soup:

2 small butternut squash (1 1/2 lb each), skin removed, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large onion, peeled and finely sliced
1 tablespoon Madras curry powder
One 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
1 clove of garlic, peeled and sliced
Salt and pepper
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
4 cups chicken stock

This is my first (maybe second) time cooking with squash. So, I wasn't sure exactly how to work with it. I peeled it:

And cored it:

And then cut it into cubes. In a large stockpot, melt the butter and add the onions. Cook until tender but not coloured, about 10 minutes.

Add the curry powder, ginger and garlic and cook for 2 minutes.

Add the squash, season with salt and pepper and saute for for 1 or 2 minutes.

Stir in the coconut milk and chicken stock, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer (Clearly even sized cubes are not my forte...My knife sucks).

Cook until the squash is tender, about 20 minutes.

For the apple compote:

1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 vanilla bean, seeds only
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1/2 cup apple cider

While the soup is simmering, toast the coriander seeds and cumin in a small pan, until fragrant - about 2 minutes. Finely grind in a spice grinder. Cook the butter in a small saucepan until golden brown and add the apples and the vanilla seeds and cook until caramelized.

Add the apple cider and cook until evaporated. Add the spices to the apples and puree in a food processor until smooth.

Puree the soup in a blender until smooth. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary. Serve with the spiced apple compote and a little scoop of sour cream.

Verdict: The soup was quite good. Between the compote and the soup itself, it felt there was a party going on in my mouth and all of Autumn was invited. If I were to make this soup again, I would probably use less than a full tablespoon of Madras curry powder. That stuff is potent. Even when I put the curry into the pot, it was so strong, the smell made me cough. Certainly the compote and sour cream balance this out. Mind you, judging from the colour of my compote, I probably over-cooked it. But it was still enjoyable.

I served 3 bowls of it (we had a guest for dinner) and still had about 5-6 portions left over. I put a large portion of the leftovers in the freezer. The rest, I kept in the fridge and "repurposed" for dinner a couple of nights later.

This time, I borrowed from one of my favourite blogs, A Good Appetite. Kat made a Cream of Tomato Soup in Puff Pastry. I borrowed the puff pastry portion and made my soup into a Butternut Squash in Puff Pastry.

Kat's recipe for this is:

Preheat oven to 450 F. Roll out your pastry dough to 1/4-inch thick. Cut out 4 circles slightly larger than you serving bowls or ramekins. Divide the soup between the four bowls. In a small bowl beat the egg. Brush the beaten egg on the pastry circles. Place the pastry, egg side down, on each bowl pulling a little to make it taut. Gently brush the top of the pastry with more egg being careful not to push it into the soup. Place the bowls on a baking sheet & then into the oven. Bake for 10 - 15 minutes until the pastry is puffed & golden (don't open your oven too early or the pastry might fall.)

The end product was really good.

It's kind of an interactive soup because you can break apart the puff pastry as desired. Maybe it's the kid in me, but I really like a bit of interaction with my food while eating it.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of our neighbours to the south!!! StumbleUpon


Anonymous said...

Okay soup queen, my goodness these look have been busy, good work and so the apple compote idea too.

test it comm said...

Butternut squash soup is one of my favorites. I like the idea of serving it with a compote and that puff pastry idea is great!

Julia said...

Looks fabulous! Nice twist with the coconut milk instead of the cream or chicken stock.

Anonymous said...

Sounds amazing. I love that puff pastry option! And that Zen chef is one chef is one crazy dude!

Anonymous said...

I'm anonymous up there. . . a little spaced this morning, so forgot to complete the first comment! ;)

Hopie said...

I like your version of this soup! Looks great. I like to roast my squash before making it into soup, that way you can just scoop it out and it's all all mushy and flavorful. I find peeling squash one of the most annoying things!

NĂºria said...

He, he you describe so well the feast of flavours in your mouth ;D

I have played with pumpkins a bit but haven't gone very far yet... your dish sounds daring and apetizing!

kat said...

All these butternut squash recipes are really making me want a big bowl! Your puff pastry came out so nice & rounded, much better than mine

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

I still use the puff pastry lid for special soups that I saw in Canadian Living magazine a number of years ago. Both of these soups are comforting as well as can serve me a bowl anytime:D

OhioMom said...

WOW! Love how you did the puff pastry over top the soup, and I love butternut squash soup :)

Rosie said...

Butternut squash I just adore and reading your recipe this one sounds wonderful!! I do like the idea of the apple compote :)

Rosie x

Anonymous said...

Yes, winter is just calling out for amazing soups. Wow, you've been going soup crazy!
The smooth butternut squash looks fantastic!

Ivy said...

I have never heard of this kind of soup before. It sounds very interesting especially with the puff pastry on top. However, butternut squash is not available in Greece, so it's a pity I cannot try this.

Melissa said...

Awesome, awesome soup. I have a bunch of cut up butternut squash that I didn't use for Thanksgiving... must use it for this instead!

Anonymous said...

Simply amazing! I think the only thing I might change is to roast the squash for a while, but I am sure it is also good as is!

That Girl said...

This is one of my favorite kind of soups! And I love that it came in a smurf house!

grace said...

"...there was a party going on in my mouth and all of Autumn was invited..."
nicely put. :) i love your soup, and your addition of an apple compote is simply brilliant. and a happy winter to you. :)

Lori Lynn said...

I really like how you garnished the soup.

Anonymous said...

Okay, i'm so late commenting on this post. I have no excuse, simply forgot!

Thank you for selecting and trying this recipe. You did a great job!

I'll try to be a better blogger next time and respond IN TIME! :-)

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