Like magic, this soup came together in a way I couldn’t have expected when I started. Initially I had planned to channel my inner Barefoot and make her roasted butternut squash soup and curry condiments from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics. But then I got to the store and they didn’t have McIntosh apples, so I bought Fuji, and I couldn’t find sweetened coconut, so instead I shrugged and figured I’d wing it on this one.
Back in the kitchen, more panic ensued. Ina wanted me to peel and core the butternut squash. Really? I even watched her prepare this on her show and this step, the peeling and the coring, was obviously done off screen because there she was, gently rubbing olive oil into perfect cubes of squash.
Undaunted, I hauled out my ever-growing collection of recipes clipped from sources both known and unknown to figure out what to do next. I found a recipe I’d cut from the New York Times last November, Butternut Squash & Roasted Apple Soup, adapted from Sam Kass. Sam (or the NYT) suggested quartering the squash and then roasting it with the apples and onions, just leaving the squash in longer than the rest of the lot. (Ina has you cutting up apples, onions and the squash into equal pieces, presumably so they roast evenly.)
But this still seemed like more work than necessary. Luckily, my Gonzo husband was not at home, because any time he sees me wielding my chef’s knife through the tough core of a squash he’s convinced I’m about to lose a hand. Or a finger. Anyway, in the end I did what I always do when I made butternut squash soup: I cut each squash in half, ripped it open with my bare hands, scooped out the seeds and slathered everything in olive oil before roasting at 400° F for 45 minutes or so.
What makes this version different, for me at least, is the addition of the roasted yellow onions and the apples, which added a sweetness and texture that I was sure Gonzo Girl would love. Turns out, I was wrong (she took two bites in exchange for two chocolate animal cookies…progress!).
Here’s what I didn’t do. I didn’t add curry, because Ina calls for “good curry” and I’m almost positive that the need to pry the spice away from the edge of its glass jar would indicate it’s anything but good. Then, I didn’t add ground cinnamon or nutmeg, which the Sam Kass version suggests, because I am not committed enough to those flavors to risk screwing up the entire batch. (I suppose I could toughen up and try it in a single bowl, but then again, why ruin perfection?)
Because that’s what this soup is: perfect. It’s got fabulous flavor, color and texture. Enjoy.
Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
3 butternut squashes, halved, seeds removed
2 yellow onions
2 Fuji apples, cored
¼ cup olive oil
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
4-6 cups water
Juice of 1 lemon
1. Preheat the oven to 400° F.
2. Roughly chop the onions and apples into 1-inch cubes. Add to a bowl and mix with 2 tablespoons olive oil and a pinch each of salt & pepper. Transfer to a large baking sheet.
3. Using an additional baking sheet (or two), arrange the butternut squash halves cut side up and drizzle with olive oil and a pinch each of salt & pepper.
4. Roast the vegetables and the apples for about 30 minutes; remove the baking sheet with the apples and onions once they’re soft.
5. Continue roasting the squash until they’re soft as well, another 15-20 minutes or so.
6. Once the squash have cooled, scoop out the flesh with a large spoon and discard skins.
7. Working in batches, combine the squash, onions and apples in a food processor along with a cup or two of vegetable broth, adding water if needed to thin to the consistency of a puree.
8. Transfer puree to a large 5-6-quart soup pot, adding more broth or water as needed, keeping the soup thick, or as desired.
9. Squeeze in the lemon’s juice and add another teaspoon of salt, stir and bring to a heat over medium-high heat.
10. Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed.
11. Serve with sliced almonds or chopped cashews. Lovely with a fresh salad and hearty bread.