I have never been a big fan of cooked pumpkin. I like the way how pumpkins look – so happy with their orange fall coats, but their taste – not really. One day, a few years ago, I got meningitis. I was so sick that the only thing I could eat was soup. Since I was not in a condition to cook myself, I went to the store and bought several cartons of soup. When I got home, I realized that instead of cream of potato soup I had bought butternut squash soup. I had fever and was very exhausted and with no other food options, in other words, I was stuck with the butternut squash soup. To my surprise, I loved the soup. In fact, I loved it even more than my all-time child favorite, cream of potato soup.
For this recipe, I have spiced up a bit the traditional butternut squash soup with some fresh squeezed orange juice and ginger, which adds a touch of sweetness and spice. I have also topped the soup with small shrimp and lemony sautéed leeks, but they are totally optional.
For all of you who do not have the time and patience to roast their butternut squash – this is a recipe for you. Over time I have learned that not baking the butternut squash is totally ok. The method I use makes the soup as delicious as it could be, and it saves a lot of time.
Give it a try this week and let me know what you think.
Butternut squash soup with orange and ginger
• 1 big (2-3 pounds) butternut squash
• 2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut in 1 inch cubes
• 2 large carrots, cut in circles
• 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
• 4 cups chicken stock
• 2 cups water
• 1 orange, juiced
• 1 lemon, juiced
• 2 tablespoons butter
• ¼ cup of heavy cream
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
• ½ teaspoon thyme
• salt and pepper
• ½ cup small (salad) shrimp, cooked
• 1 leek, finely sliced (white part only)
Wash the butternut squash really well by gently scrubbing the skin. Cut it in half and scoop out the seeds. Cut each half into 3-4 equal size pieces. Leave aside. Heat the oil in a large pot. Lower the heat to medium-high and add the onions. Sauté for 2 minutes until the onions are translucent. Add the potatoes, carrots and ginger and cook them for about 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add the stock and the water. Add the butternut squash and nestle the pieces, making sure they all are covered with liquid. Bring the pot to a boil, lower the heat and simmer, stirring from time to time, for about 30 minutes or until the flesh of the butternut squash is soft. Remove the soup from the heat. Let it cool for 15 minutes. With a slotted spoon, gently remove the butternut squash and place it on a plate. Let it cool for about 20 minutes and scoop out the flesh (leaving the skin out). Place the flesh back into the pot.
If using a standard blender: Puree the soup, working in batches, holding the top of the blender really tight with a kitchen towel.
If using and immersion blender: Place the blender in the pot and puree until the soup becomes smooth.
Add the butter and cream to the pot and stir until the butter is melted. Add the orange and lemon juice. Stir, add the thyme and salt and pepper to taste.
If serving with leeks and shrimp: Sauté the leeks in a teaspoon of oil for about a minute. While the pan is still hot, add a dash of salt, pepper and squeeze some lemon juice on top. Pour the soup into bowls and top with a few shrimps and a spoonful of the leeks.