This soup evolves every time I make it. “Fall in a bowl,” Todd called this incarnation. Here’s what I did yesterday.
1 butternut squash, stem end removed, cut in ½ lengthwise, seeds scooped out
1 small sweet red onion, peeled and 4th-ed or 8th-ed (decent-sized chunks), with 4 or 5 thin slices off one section
1 head of garlic
Canola or extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt, fresh cracked pepper
Cayenne powder (Grandma Boyd’s “secret ingredient”)
1 box of chicken or vegetable stock
1 can evaporated milk
Set oven to 375F or 400F. Place squash halves, cut-side up, on a lightly oiled cookie sheet with an edge or in baking dish. Remove paper from 3 garlic cloves and slice one it in half. Rub all cut sides of squash with the cut side a ½ clove and toss one into each “bowl” where the seeds were along a whole clove. Trim the “attachment” end off the remaining garlic cloves. Add a bay leaf and divide the onion slices between each “bowl” so there are 1 ½ garlic cloves, several small bits of onion, and a bay leave in each. Drizzle each half with oil and massage over entire surface with a little extra oil in the bowl, tossing the contents with the oil. Heap the chunked onions and the unpeeled garlic cloves between the squash halves, drizzle and toss with a little oil, also. Sprinkle everything fairly generously with cumin, paprika, salt and pepper. Bake for 45 min to an hour. Your house will smell incredible. Cool to a “touchable” temp. Don’t worry if it’s not completely fall-apart tender.
Spoon the squash into a large pot, taking care to get all the “bowl” goodness and any browned, caramelized bits in. It was actually easier to just dump the squash upside down into the pot and peel the skin off along with any tough strings. Squeeze/peel the roasted garlic cloves in with the squash and add the roasted onions. If the outermost onion layer is totally burned to a crisp you can leave that out, but I did throw in the burnt but slightly moist ones. Add a box of stock, a little more cumin and paprika (at least another tsp of cumin and ½ tsp of paprika), 1-2 tsp poultry seasoning, 2-3 dashes of cayenne powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a pretty rapid simmer, stirring frequently, for about 20 minutes or however long until all the veggies are soft and the squash is really breaking down. Remove from heat.
Puree with a stick blender until smooth, or in a blender in batches and return to pot (remember to vent the blender lid to avoid hot explosions!) I forgot to remove the bay leaves before pureeing and it was fine. Stir in a can of evaporated (NOT sweetened condensed) milk and return to heat until the soup almost simmers, stirring frequently. Adjust consistency with either more broth or evaporated milk and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as desired. Serve it up and enjoy. I skipped a garnish, but a dash of paprika on each serving would have been really pretty.
VARIATIONS/SUGGESTIONS: Any type of winter squash can be used or combination thereof. Also can add in sweet potatoes or carrots or other root veg. Really can’t go wrong with this. Sage is also delicious, I just didn’t think of it in time and this version certainly wasn’t lacking. I use evap milk instead of cream for the increased calcium and reduced saturated fat and I have never gotten any complaints. Also, the soup can be made to various points, refrigerated, and finished up later for a quick meal or for entertaining (definitely company-worthy). It's very forgiving and also rewarms quite nicely. Green salad, crusty bread and a little mulled cider and you've got an awesome autumn meal!!