with Pecan Butter Garnish
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed into chunks (it's about 4 cups)
1 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1/4 cube butter
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon sage
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
Zest of 1 orange
Juice of 1 orange
3 cans chicken stock
1/4 cup half and half (optional)
2 teaspoons sugar
In a large stock pot, melt butter. Over medium heat sauté onions and garlic until soft, about 5 minutes. Add all of the remaining ingredients except the sugar and half and half. Bring ingredients to a simmer and cover the pot with a lid. Simmer until the squash is soft, about 30 minutes.
Remove the pot from the stove. Working in batches, blend the squash mixture in a blender until it is smooth. (Or, if you have an emulsifier, use that instead of the blender). Return the soup to the pot and add the half and half and sugar. Thin the soup with a little water or chicken if it seems too thick. Season with more salt and pepper if desired.
Compound Pecan Butter Garnish
Mix the butter and the honey together until well combined. Add the nuts. Place the nut butter on a piece of plastic wrap and roll into a thin log about 1 inch in diameter. Refrigerate the log until firm. When ready to serve, cut the log into 1/4 inch slices. Float one slice in the center of each individual serving of soup along with a little fresh spring of thyme.
- Peeling squash is the only bad part of making squash soup. If you've never peeled a butternut squash, here's how I do it. Slice off the top and bottom of the squash with a knife it will be steady as you peel from each end. Stand the squash upright on a cutting board. Peel the neck of the squash with a vegetable peeler. Use a knife around the bulb part. Cut the neck off the squash and cut into big chunks. Cut the bulb in half and scoop out the seeds. Chop the neck into big chunks.
- If you are a soup lover, and you don't have an emulsifier, this is one of my "must have" kitchen tools. It's so much easier than trying to blend hot liquids in a blender. You can blend everything up right in the pot. You can purchase a fairly inexpensive one at Walmart, or a nicer one at Kohls for a few dollars more. (In case you are wondering, my really nice one broke, so I bought another one at Walmart and it gets the job done.)
- You can buy fresh nutmeg and a little nutmeg grater at World Market. It's much cheaper than buying a little bottle of the ground stuff in the grocery store, and the taste is far superior.
- If you have a small family, don't despair. Freeze half for another meal! Just add a little milk or water to thin it out when you reheat it.
- My kids are big complainers when I try to get them to eat something new -- especially if it's a weird color, like orange. They loved this!