Apples in abundance at the farmers’ markets signal the start of the fall season. Combined with butternut squash, which looks and tastes like fall all on its own, this soup is a precursor of the bounty and vibrant colors of the produce we have awaiting us this season.
This recipe uses brown butter as a significant source of flavor. If you are a vegan or vegetarian, simply replace the butter with the oil of your choice, and your soup will still be delicious. But if you do eat animal products, specifically butter, try coaxing the maximum flavor out of this ingredient by browning it. The trick is to get the butter at just the right point where it is brown enough for full flavor but has not started to burn. Your nose and your eyes will be good guides.
Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup
1 medium butternut squash (about 3–4 pounds), peeled, seeded, and chopped into 2–inch chunks
Salt and pepper
4 tablespoons butter (or 2 tablespoons olive oil)
1 yellow onion, diced
2 apples, peeled, cored, and diced
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme or 1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
4 cups vegetable broth
Crème fraîche (optional)
- Heat oven to 400˚F.
- Put butternut squash chunks on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Add salt and pepper. Roast squash for 1 hour, or until the edges are just starting to caramelize. During this process, toss squash chunks once or twice to insure even roasting.
- Melt butter, if using, in a soup pot until it starts to turn a light golden brown and smells slightly nutty. If using olive oil instead, simply heat it until shimmering.
- Add onion, apples, and seasonings to the butter or oil, and cook on medium heat until everything has softened, about 10 minutes.
- When squash is done, add that to the onion and apple mixture, and cook together over medium heat another 10 minutes.
- Add vegetable broth and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Puree the soup in a high-speed blender, a food processor, or a food mill. Add salt and pepper if needed.
- If desired, serve each bowl with a dollop of crème fraîche.
- Roasted Pear and Apple Soup. Substitute pears for the apples.
- Roasted Sweet Potato and Apple Soup. Swap out butternut squash for sweet potatoes.
- Spicy Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup. Omit the fruit, cinnamon, thyme, and ginger, and add in 1 to 2 tablespoons of canned chipotles in adobe sauce. You may need to up the amount of squash or decrease the amount of stock somewhat to make up for the reduced volume of the fruit.
Cutting up a whole butternut squash requires a sharp knife and careful attention to fingertips. Fortunately it is relatively easy to find cubed butternut squash in almost any supermarket. You may need to cut your precut chunks into smaller ones, and it will cost you a bit more, but the convenience is worth it.
Butternut squash is low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium. It is a very good source of vitamins A and C as well as potassium and manganese.
Apples are high in dietary fiber and vitamin C.
This soup is delicious but indulgent, especially if you use both the butter and the crème fraîche. Balance this out by watching your portion size and adding a light green salad to your meal.