It’s officially fall and what better way to welcome the season than with a hot bowl of my favourite soup: butternut squash.

As a beginner cook, I’ve only made soup from scratch a handful of times. I basically cook what I want to eat. I’ve had many bowls of butternut squash soup in my lifetime but I’ve only made it a grand total of two times. The first was an utter FAIL and the second was pure perfection.

Trial 1

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Looked alright but it was a disaster

It was late February 2013 and I was working in Val-d’Or, Québec, a rural town in French Canada. It was the dead of winter, with temperatures plunging down to -40ºC. It was the first time I really had to cook for myself.

In university, I was in either at my parents’ home, on residence with a meal plan, or at a restaurant with my then-boyfriend-now-husband. My first job as a geologist when I graduated in June 2012 was in a camp setting where the company provided all my meals and accommodation. It’s never too late to learn to cook, as long as you try! And try I did.

I forgot which recipe I tried for this roasted butternut squash soup, but it was probably from allrecipes.com or somewhere similar. My pitfalls:

  • I cubed the squash too small.
  • I roasted them at too high a temperature and didn’t bother to check them from time to time so most of them burned.
  • I should have just given up but I continued to purée the squash (I tried to remove as much burnt parts as I could) and made the rest of the soup.
  • The soup had a slight yet terrible charred flavour. See those black bits in the picture? That wasn’t ground pepper…

I didn’t want it to go to waste so I just ate it for the next couple of days until I finished it. At least it was edible.

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Trial 2 

I attempted to make this soup again a year later. It’s my favourite and I just couldn’t give up that easily! I cooked a three-course meal for my entire family (parents plus four hungry siblings) in mid-December 2014 as I was working at the mine during Christmas.

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Your hair would look disheveled too if you spent hours in the kitchen!

It took a while to make but it turned out so well. Butternut squash has a very subtle flavour that you really need to season it. The seasoning gave the squash a great combination of flavour that I couldn’t get enough of it even after devouring one bowl. And I quote the cookbook from which I got this recipe:

From the sweet apple and cinnamon to the hot spice of the ginger, the ingredients blend together like they were meant to be.

My family, who are normally averse to trying new food (especially if it involves vegetables), also liked it. Please do try this recipe!

Best-ever spiced butternut squash soup

From Skinny Bitch: Ultimate Everyday Cookbook

(Called Butternut squash soup with poppy seeds in the cookbook)

Makes 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp grapeseed oil (I just used regular canola oil)
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 quart (960 ml) vegetable stock (I highly recommend that you make your own as store-bought ones contain a lot of salt to prolong their shelf life. You save money too!)
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) water
  • 1 large apple, chopped
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp agave nectar (I just used maple syrup)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp dried sage
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup (35 g) poppy seeds for garnishing

METHOD:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC).
  2. Cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise, creating two equal halves. Scoop the seeds, and place squash, cut-side up, on the baking sheet. Drizzle each squash half with 1 tbsp of olive oil to create a small pool of oil in the cavity. Put 1 garlic clove in each cavity. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake the squash in the over for 45 minutes, or until squash is tender when pierced with a fork. Remove from the oven and let cool. When cooled, peel off the squash skin and cut the squash into large chunks. Reserve the garlic cloves.
  3. In a large pot, heat the grapeseed or canola oil on medium heat. Add the onion, stirring until softened, about 5 minutes. Pour in the veg stock and water. Add in the butternut squash, apple, and two baked garlic cloves. Cover and simmer 20 minutes, or until the apple is very tender (the squash should already be tender).
  4. Remove from heat and pour half of the soup into a food processor or blender. Let cool for 10 minutes. Leave the remaining soup in the pan to cool. Purée the soup until smooth. Add the remaining soup and blend together until creamy. Alternatively, if you are using an immersion blender, purée the soup directly in the pot after 5 to 10 minutes of cooling.
  5. Pour the soup back into the pot and add the ginger, agave nectar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sage. Season with additional salt and pepper, if needed. Garnish with the poppy seeds.
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What you need on a cold fall or winter night

NUTRITION FACTS:

Serving size: 378 g | Calories: 190 | Fat: 10 g (sat fat: 1 g, cholesterol: 0 mg) | Carbohydrates: 27 g (fibre: 5 g) | Protein: 3 g

Lessons learned:

  • Roast the squash as halves instead of chopping them into cubes.
  • Don’t carry on with burnt squash! Just leave it and make something else.
  • Seasoning makes all the difference. I just tasted that burnt flavour in my first attempt.

Happy soup-making!

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