With holiday decorations filling stores and carols playing on the radio, it’s easy to forget that winter doesn’t officially arrive until December 21 in the Northern Hemisphere. If you’re not ready to transition into a new season just yet, make time for a classic fall recipe in between baking Christmas cookies. This comforting butternut squash soup from the Institute of Culinary Education is the perfect way to celebrate the last gasps of autumn.
This recipe uses just a handful of simple, traditional ingredients. Start by roasting a halved butternut squash in a 400º F oven for 35 minutes. As it cooks, sauté diced onion, carrot, and celery together with butter in a soup pot until soft and translucent. Scoop the roasted squash out of its peel and add the flesh to the pot with four cups of chicken stock. If you want to make the recipe vegetarian, use vegetable stock instead. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce it to a simmer for five minutes.
This recipe doesn’t require bold spices or rich ingredients to taste delicious. Roasting the butternut squash at high heat promotes the Maillard Reaction, and the browning and carmelization that happens in the oven creates a strong foundation of flavor in the soup.
“The butternut squash itself already gives lots of flavor,” ICE chef-instructor Chayanin Pornsriniyom tells Mental Floss. “So it’s actually a very effective and very easy recipe.”
To finish the soup, puree the vegetable mixture together using an immersion blender or Vitamix. Serve with creme fraiche and chopped chives on top.
ICE offers courses in the culinary arts, pastry and baking arts, and hospitality and hotel management out of its campuses in Los Angeles and New York. If you’re interested in furthering your culinary education, view their curricula online.
Butternut Squash Soup
1 butternut squash, cut in half lengthwise, seeds removed
Olive oil, as needed to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
1 ounce (2 tablespoons) butter
1 cup diced yellow onion
½ cup diced carrot
½ cup diced celery
4 cups chicken stock
¼ cup crème fraiche
2 tablespoons chopped chives
- Heat oven to 400º F.
- Line a baking sheet with foil and coat foil with olive oil. Sprinkle cut side of squash with salt and pepper. Place squash, cut side down, on pan and roast in the oven until soft, about 35 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat the butter in a soup pot. Add the onion, carrot and celery and cook, covered, over medium-low heat until the vegetables are transparent.
- When the squash is cool enough to handle, scoop squash and discard peel. Add the roasted squash and stock to the soup pot.
- Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook five minutes more until all the vegetables are very tender.
- Turn off the heat and use an immersion blender or Vitamix to puree the soup.
- Serve hot with a dollop of crème fraiche and a sprinkle of chives.