Butternut squash is such a versatile veggie, good for roasting, pureeing, and, of course, being made into a velvety soup. America's Test Kitchen developed this recipe, and it's definitely a winner in my book. The flavor and texture are just right - not too sweet, not too squash-y. And it's a beautiful shade of orange (and I'm not just saying that because I live in TN)! This soup is perfect for a cold, wet, and/or windy day, and it's worth the little bit of effort it takes to make it. It's a delicious way to use up any squash you may have stashed in your pantry.
Butternut Squash Soup
4 Tbsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2-3 Tbsp. grated onion (use 1 large shallot if you've got it)
3 pounds butternut squash (~1 large), cut in half lengthwise, then each half cut in half widthwise; seeds and fibers scraped out and reserved
6 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
pinch grated nutmeg (optional)
Melt butter in a large, heavy-bottomed stockpot over medium-low heat until foaming. Add the shallot/onion and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the seeds and fibers from the squash and cook, stirring occasionally, until the butter turns a saffron color, about 4 minutes.
Add the water and 1 teaspoon salt to the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, place squash cut-side down in a steamer basket and lower into the pot. Cover and steam squash until completely tender, about 30 minutes. Take the pot off the heat and transfer the squash to a rimmed baking sheet to cool. When cool enough to handle, scrape the flesh from the skin into a bowl. (Discard the skin.)
Strain the steaming liquid through a mesh strainer into another bowl (or large measuring cup). You should have 2.5-3 cups liquid. Discard the fibers & seeds.
Puree the squash in batches in a blender, pulsing on low and adding enough reserved liquid to obtain a smooth consistency. Transfer the puree back into the stockpot and stir in the remaining liquid (until desired consistency is reached), cream, and brown sugar. Warm the soup over medium-low heat until hot (do not boil). Stir in nutmeg (if using) and adjust the seasonings. Serve immediately.
Adapted from Cooking at Home with America's Test Kitchen (2006)