As the first ramps and fiddlehead ferns pop up to herald the start of spring, we wave our fond farewells to the produce that's held us over so well during the winter. Parsnips, you were so kind. Rutabagas, you provided our dinner tables with unparalleled merriment. And brussels sprouts; though you disgusted my mother time and time again, we raise our glasses to your complexity and ability to pair well with cheese.
Of course, our saddest adieu goes out to butternut squash. Delicious and substantive, you rose like the sun to cast your wondrous orange glow upon our tongues. It is in your honor, dearest squash, that we dedicate this final root soup of the season.
And could there be a finer send off? Like all superior soups, this Roasted Butternut Squash version is complex yet simple, savory yet sweet, and healthy yet deceptively rich. Flavored by slow-roasted garlic and a Vidalia onion the size of a small planet, it's the kind of concoction that makes you say, "Sweet Bea Arthur, I did not truly know soup until this very moment."
So, with full bellies, open minds, and four newly-frozen Tupperware containers of this stuff, let's get this warm weather here, already.
- Yield:about 7 cups of soup
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 three-pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 2-inch chunks
- 1 softball-sized sweet Vidalia onion, cut into chunks or rings
- 1 head garlic, cloves separated and peeled
- 3 1/2 cups stock, divided
- Salt and pepper
- 1 or 2 tablespoons cream or unsalted butter (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Toss squash, onion and garlic cloves with 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil; spread on glass baking dish and pour 1 cup stock over the top. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Bake at 350ºF for 1 1/2 hours or until fairly soft and a little caramelized-looking; check on the pan every 20 minutes or so and if necessary, add additional liquid to keep it from scorching to the bottom of the pan. Stir once during cooking.
Add squash, garlic, onion, and any liquid from baking dish into a large Dutch oven or stockpot. Add 2 1/2 cups stock and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper to the pot, and cook over medium-low heat for at least 20 minutes.
Purée all ingredients in a blender. Add back to pot, stir in cream or butter and adjust salt and pepper to taste.