'Tis the season for winter squash. Not only is it super affordable and accessible right now, but season-appropriate foods also tend to be fresher and more flavorful. So, get thee to a farmer's market or grocery store and buy some butternut squash now! And then make this easy soup! It would be a perfect start to Thanksgiving dinner: fill up on this and you won't have as much room for the higher-calorie, lower-nutrition victuals.
Not only is this a simple dish—perfect for a quick weeknight meal—it's also incredibly nutritious. Winter squash are absolutely loaded with alpha- and beta-carotene. Squash are also great sources of vitamin C, carotenoids, potassium, fiber, folate and even omega-3s. Butternut is just one type of winter squash; it is perfect for soup because it isn't usually stringy.
I added a pear to this simple, clean soup, in order to heighten the sweetness of the squash a bit. I used a red anjou—it was too gorgeous to pass by!—but you can use any ripe pear you like. Also, if you don't have vegetable stock on hand, just use a box of stock (preferably organic and low-sodium).
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2T coconut oil
- 1 lb. butternut squash, peeled and cubed (about 5 1/2-6 cups)
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 1 large pear, chopped
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- minced pear, for garnish (optional)
Using a three-quart saucepan, melt coconut oil over medium heat. Add onions and sautée until translucent and tender. Add squash, as well as some salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cover all ingredients with stock.
Bring to a simmer and add pears. Cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the squash is tender.
Remove the pot from the heat and, using an immersion blender, puree until smooth. Add more salt and pepper, to taste. I like mine to have quite a bit of savory elements, since i love that balance with sweet foods. Garnish with some minced pear - not only does it look pretty, but it's a nice texture contrast with the smooth soup. You could also try topping it with a drizzle of cream, a dollop of creme fraiche, or some chopped parsley or chives.
I served this soup with a little platter of dried cranberries and apricots, a log of goat cheese, and chunks of parmigiano-reggiano. It was a hit—even with my friend's three-and-a-half-year-old daughter!