Pick a Gourd, any Gourd: Winter Squash Soup

This is a guest contribution to Illuminations for The Great Rare Books Bake Off by Christianne Beekman.

Winter Squash (or pick any gourd) soup

I initially wanted to call this recipe “Pick Your Favorite Gourd” Soup. After some research it became clear to me that pumpkin (or butternut squash, which I ended up using) is not a gourd at all, but rather a winter squash. Hence, the last minute name change. Being from Europe, I did not grow up eating pumpkin or any winter squash or gourds of any kind! After moving to the US, pumpkins and squashes quickly became favorites of mine. While I do not really care that much for pumpkin pie (probably due to the pumpkin spice), perhaps a shocker, I absolutely love using pumpkin, or a close relative, as a veggie in any dish. I am sharing this recipe for winter squash soup because it is super easy to make, it can be easily customized, and it is a great appetizer or an easy weeknight dinner if you combine it with a salad and some bread. 

The ingredients (most are shown in the photo):

  • ½ butternut squash (you can substitute with any squash or gourd)
  • 3 green onions (I would usually use 1 small yellow onion or a shallot, but when I started with this recipe the other day I realized I only had the green onions and it worked really well!)
  • Garlic! Anything tastes better if there is garlic in it, right? I used 4 big cloves. 
  • Your favorite spices: I used 1-2Tbsp. Thyme (fresh is better, I had to use dried), ½ teasp. cumin, ¼ teasp. Ginger, ¼  teasp. Smoked paprika, ⅛ teasp. Cayenne pepper (for a little kick),  pepper and salt to taste.
  • 1Tbsp. Butter and 2 Tbsp. of flour, the butter and flour combine to make a Roux. I think this is an excellent way to bind the soup and give it a little creaminess. Note, due to lactose intolerance of my partner, I cannot use the heavy cream that most recipes call for.
  • 1 cube vegetable broth (1- 2 cups). You can add more if it is for a bigger crowd, I only made this for two!
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar (optional)

I started by heating some olive oil in a sauce pan and sauteing the onion for a few minutes until the white parts are translucent. I used most of the onion (white and green bits), leaving only a few green bits for garnishing. After this add the garlic and saute for another minute until fragrant. While one would put heavy cream in near the end, I add the butter and flour now, starting with the flour coating all the onion and then add the butter. The fat and the flour will make a Roux, the longer you cook it the darker it gets. If you have the time, cook it for 10 – 15 min (the darker it is the more flavor you get). If you do not have time just a few minutes is enough too.

Only the onion and garlic with the butter and flour

Now add the squash and the spices. I cut the squash in 1” cubes and boiled them for 15 min to get them soft enough to mash before adding them. You can also use canned pumpkin or something similar, if you do not want to deal with prepping the squash.

Add vegetable broth and simmer for a few minutes. I added 1Tbsp. Of brown sugar here to sweeten it slightly. You can also use honey or maple syrup.  If you want to add cream, now is the time, right at the very end, when you take it off the stove. I used an immersion blender to make the soup smooth. Garnish with the leftover green onion. You can also use toasted pumpkin seeds or any other topping.

Serve with bread, a salad, or by itself. It was delicious!

-Christianne Beekman

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