Our Thanksgiving dinner always begins with a bowl of satisfying warm soup. Whether it’s made with kabocha, Hubbard or butternut, squash soup has become the traditional starter of our annual feast. Butternut squash soup with cider cream is an Epicurious recipe that originated in a November 1998 Bon Appetit article about soups and salads written by one of my favorite cookbook authors, Betty Rosbottom.
Butternut squash has a sweet nutty flavor, similar to a pumpkin and is a good source of fiber and vitamins B, C and E. In this recipe cubed squash, celery, carrots and leeks are sauteed until softened. Tart Granny Smith apples, fragrant sage and thyme are added along with chicken stock and cider. The addition of apples and apple cider lighten the consistency of the soup. Use a tart apple like a Granny Smith to offset the natural sweetness of the squash. Wonderful aromas will fill your kitchen as the soup simmers. I chose not to add the heavy cream called for in the original recipe, I felt the velvety texture of the butternut squash gave the soup sufficient creaminess. Don’t skip the cider cream in this recipe. It adds a creamy, cool tanginess that contrasts nicely with sweet nutty flavor of the soup. I am pleased to say that the leeks and the sage I used in this recipe were from the garden. Since our chives died back after the first snow and I can’t bear to spend a fortune for an herb that we have in such abundance in season, I chose to garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds. Both the soup and the cider cream can be prepared a day or two ahead. Reheat the soup in a crock pot on a low setting and you will have time to pay attention to other last minute menu details.
Butternut Squash Soup with Cider Cream
Epicurious from Bon Appetit, November 1998
- 5 T butter
- 2½ lb butternut squash, cubed and roasted (about 6 cups)
- 2 c chopped leeks (white and pale green parts only; about 2 large)
- ½ c chopped peeled carrot
- ½ c chopped celery
- 2 small granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
- 1½ t dried thyme
- ½ t dried sage leaves
- 5 c low salt chicken broth
- 1½ c apple cider, divided
- ⅔ c sour cream
- 1/2 c toasted pumpkin seeds
- Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add squash, leeks, carrot and celery. Saute until lightly softened, about 15 minutes. Mix in apples, thyme and sage. Add broth and 1 cup cider; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until apples are tender, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Cool slightly.
- Working in batches, puree soup in a food processor until smooth. Return soup to pot. Or puree with immersion blender. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Boil remaining apple cider in heavy small saucepan until reduced to ¼ cup, about 5 minutes. Cool. Place sour cream in small bowl. Whisk in reduced cider.
- Ladle soup into bowls and serve with dollop of cider cream and a sprinkling of pumpkin seeds.