The rumors are true. Fall has officially arrived. And while most people are giddy and talking about the beautiful fall weather, colors, and activities, I continue to mourn the death of another summer and dread the fact that I have to retire my flip flops and tank tops for another nine months in place of socks and sweaters. But trying to stay positive, the one thing I will admit that do look forward to is fall cooking, and by that I mean squash! Go into any supermarket and you’ll find a bounty of various squash all over the produce department. I will admit there is something very comforting about snuggling up on the sofa with a warm fire burning in the background while dining on fall comfort food and sipping a nice glass of wine.
So this past weekend I decided to finally give in to the season and kick it off by making my super comforting Curried Butternut Squash Soup. Besides, we had friends in town who had just finish running the Porltand Marathon (yes, all 26.2 miles of it), and what could be more relaxing after running that insane distance than wine and warm comfort food… well, that and a massage perhaps.
Curried Butternut Squash Soup
- 1 butternut squash (about 2-3 lbs)
- 4 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 medium onion (chopped)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 garlic cloves (diced)
- 4-5 cups vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon curry powder (or less, depending on how much you like the flavor)
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Salt and fresh ground pepper
Topping: (Wisk together all 3 ingredients in a small bowl)
- ½ cup crème fraîche: of you don’t have crème fraîche substitute Greek yogurt for a healthier alternative.
- Zest of ½ a lime
- 1 teaspoon lime juice
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cut butternut squash in half (lengthwise) and remove the seeds. Drizzle about 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil on each side for moisture then sprinkle the flesh liberally with brown sugar and moderately with salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet skin side down. Roast in the oven 45 min – 1 hour (until the squash is soft enough to easily insert a fork into).
Scoop flesh out of butternut squash with a spoon, set aside.
In a large saucepan, over medium heat, add olive oil, butter, and onions. Cook until the onions are soft but not caramelized (about 5 minutes). Add garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
Add broth, flesh of butternut squash, curry powder, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Continue cooking over medium heat and bring to a simmer, about 15 minutes. Puree soup with a hand immersion blender until smooth. (If you don’t have a hand held immersion blender you can use a blender, just don’t fill it to the top or explosions of soup may occur. Blend in small batches, trust me.) If soup is too thick, add more broth until it reaches desired consistency. Serve in bowls with a dollop of the lime crème fraîche.
Another fun bonus topping I often add is candied pecans. Just toast up a handful of pecans in a skillet and then add a bit of butter and sugar at the end to sweeten them. Let them cool, then add a few to the soup.
For a hearty soup like this I recommend a hearty white wine, such as a Viognier or slightly oaked Chardonnay. This particular weekend we served the:
2006 Dobbes Family Estate Viognier, Rogue Valley, Oregon
Retail: $17 on sale at the Hollywood Fred Meyer, or direct from the winery in Dundee, OR.
This was a hearty wine that started out with lots of melon, citrus, apricot, spice and floral notes on the nose. The mouth was rich and round with more spice, perhaps from a little bit of oak influence, as well as additional floral and citrus qualities. The wine finished with a lingering acidity.
It paired very well with the soup’s richness and creamy textures. The wine really brought out the curry spice in the soup, and the soup brought out the slight citrus notes to the wine. My only wish was that the wine had a bit more fruit notes (not necessarily sweetness, but a touch of sweet fruit) to bring out more of the sweet butternut squash.
Either way, Viognier or Chardonnay would be solid pairings for this rich and slightly spicy soup.
*This is also a fantastic appetizer or side dish for Thanksgiving dinner. Instead of pouring a full bowl, pour smaller appetizer size in a teacup or shot glass (making it a perfect walk around hors d’oeuvre!). We actually have been making it for the last three years on Thanksgiving day and plan to keep the tradition going.
Cheers to fall!