Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Tomatoes,
Thyme, and Corn Bread Croutons
This intensely flavored soup makes a terrific first course for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. It’s delicious chilled, so it can also be served as a starter for an Indian summer harvest meal. It freezes well, so make plenty.
Make about 2½ quarts soup; serves 6 to 8
1 butternut squash, cut in half lengthwise and seeds removed
¼ cup olive oil
6 plum tomatoes, cored and halved
4 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter
1 red onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
6 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup fresh thyme leaves or 4 teaspoons dried thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives or fresh parsley, optional
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage or 1 teaspoon dried sage
Juice of 2 oranges
2 cups Corn Bread Croutons, optional
Additional fresh sage and thyme, to garnish, optional
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
2. Place the squash cut side down in a large baking dish. Add 1 cup water and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to the dish and roast 35 to 40 minutes, until the squash is soft and tender to the touch.
3. Meanwhile, toss the tomatoes and garlic with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the vinegar in a baking dish. Roast 30 to 35 minutes or until soft and the skin is slightly shriveled. Let stand until cool enough to handle, and then lightly crush the tomatoes with your hands or a potato masher into small pieces, reserving the liquid. Set aside until ready to use.
4. Heat the remaining olive oil and the butter over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add the onion and cook and stir about 10 minutes, until onion is soft and translucent. Add the carrot and celery and cook 10 to 15 minutes longer, stirring constantly, until the vegetables are soft.
5. Add the broth, salt, and pepper and reduce heat to low; simmer, uncovered, 20 to 25 minutes.
6. Remove the squash from its skin by scooping out the flesh with a spoon. Discard the skin and add the flesh to the soup. Simmer about 20 minutes longer, stirring occasionally.
7. Remove from the heat
and add the thyme, chives, and sage. Cool slightly, then, working in batches, pour the soup into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and puree until smooth. Return the soup to the pot and add the tomatoes and their liquid and the orange juice; stir to mix. Season with additional salt and pepper if desired. Reheat the soup on low if necessary. Serve immediately.
Any type of winter squash can be used instead of butternut squash. For added richness, swirl in a little heavy cream or top each serving with jalapeo cream (combine minced jalapeos and fresh lime juice with sour cream or unsweetened whipped cream). Or float Crostini topped with lump crabmeat on each serving. For a heartier soup, add cooked ravioli (pumpkin ravioli is great) to each serving. You can also use this soup to flavor risotto, by alternating broth and some of this soup instead of just using broth.