This week's Sunday Slow Soupers was my selection of Roasted Butternut Squash Soup. As I said in the previous entry, this is one of my favorite soups. There is something about the sweet and creamy nature of butternut squash that makes it irresistible to me. I love pumpkin or squash filled ravioli, and I love roasted squash with pasta or in all sorts of dishes. But most of all I love pureed squash soups. And this one is pure comfort food.
I think this is a good recipe, but like many soup recipes your actual results may vary. After making this again last night and also hearing some feedback from the rest of group, I realized that the seasoning really has to be to taste. Every squash is different, some need more seasoning than others. I find that the sweeter the squash, the more I need to add salt to balance it out. And the blander the squash, the more I need to add pepper, ginger and nutmeg. The flavor of your chicken or vegetable broth is also a huge factor in how much seasoning you need.
Luckily it is no real hardship to grab a spoon and taste it toward the end of the cooking time. Just be careful not to burn your tongue and wash your spoon or grab a new one before resampling — probably obvious to everyone reading this, but it seems like Tom Colicchio has to remind the Top Chefs of this every season!
One more practical tip that a couple people mentioned, roast the squash the day before you plan to make the soup. Since the squash takes so long in the oven, I think it's a great idea to do it ahead of time. It would make this a really simple soup to do for a dinner party. I have also served it as the first course to a Thanksgiving dinner and, in that case, I made the whole soup the day before and just reheated it.
If you are serving it for a fancy dinner, you could try some fancier garnishes. The creme fraiche and pepper is all very fine for eating while sitting on the couch watching a movie, but there could be some other options. How about crisp fried sage leaves and a swirly pattern of really good olive oil? Or how about a spicy chipotle cream with some carmelized onions? Or add a little more of the fried pancetta along with a little apple puree. There are a lot of delicious possibilities, so you just might want to keep this soup in your roster.