This is easy. This is so easy. Yet it is one of the best soup recipes I’ve made. The hardest part of this recipe is cutting the acorn squash in half to roast them. After that it is a cake walk. But if you haven’t done this before and you are not particularly strong in the hands, take extra precautions. Heck, even if you are a linebacker, cutting one of these at the wrong angle can lead to a pretty unfortunate knife incident, so please be cautious (see notes). In the photo the soup bowl is surrounded by herbs but for once they are just for show. My garden is a profusion of herbs at the moment and the Mexican Mint Marigold is in bloom and I find myself making bouquets of herbs just for the beauty and the scent.
I made sweet and spicy croutons to go with this. It is a nifty flavor jolt in a sublime soup. Other than the spices used in the croutons, this is a low spice/seasoning affair. The squash sweetens as it roasts and is wonderful without any seasoning at all. One of my husband’s favorite dishes, in fact, is a half of a roasted acorn squash, with the cavity filled with melted butter and a heaping spoonful of brown sugar. I will not judge if you pull these beauties out of the oven and decide to just dig in, as is. For that same reason, the soup doesn’t need a lot of gussying up. I sautéed onions and garlic, and pureed the squash with the onions, garlic and chicken broth. After that, a light splash of cream and a teaspoon of maple sugar are all that I add. It is really lovely.
2 acorn squash, halved
4 tablespoons butter, cut into 1 tablespoon chunks
1 teaspoon grapeseed oil
½ cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1½ cups low sodium chicken broth
¼ cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon maple sugar
3 cups cubed sourdough bread
2 teaspoons grapeseed oil
2 teaspoons maple sugar
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Halve the squash and spoon out the seeds and pulp in the cavity. Place the squash halves, cut side up, in a large roasting pan. Place a pat of butter in each squash cavity. Place the roasting pan in the oven. After the squash have roasted for 5 minutes the butter will have melted. Use a spoon or a brush to baste the cut surfaces of the squash and return the squash to the oven. Roast for another 55 minutes, basting the squash with the melted butter pooled in the squash cavity every 15 minutes or so. When the squash are pierced easily with a fork, remove them from the oven and cover the roasting pan with foil.
2. Make the croutons while you let the squash cool enough so that you can handle it. Place the oil in a large bowl and swirl it around the bowl. Combine the spices in a separate bowl. Place the bread cubes in the large bowl and toss them so that they are evenly coated with oil. Sprinkle half of the spices around the bread cubes and toss them. Sprinkle the remaining spices around the bread cubes and toss them again. (You don’t want the spices all on one side or all in one spot so toss them about until the spices are well distributed.)
3. Spread the cubes on a baking sheet and place them in the oven (still 375 degrees). Toast the bread cubes for 5 minutes and then toss them about with a spatula. Toast for up to an additional 8-9 minutes or until they are golden and crunchy. (do not multi-task right now…at this temp they will go from perfect to ruined quickly). Remove the croutons from the oven and allow them to cool. Once cool, place the croutons in a serving dish.
5. Scoop the pulp out of the acorn squash hulls and place it in the saucepan with the onions and garlic. Add 1½ cups of low sodium chicken broth to the saucepan. Mix the contents of the saucepan a bit. In batches, spoon squash into a blender pitcher up to the halfway point. Blend until smooth and pour into a separate container. Repeat until you have pureed all of the soup. (You can also do this with a stick blender or a food processor.) Clean out the saucepan. Return the pureed soup to the saucepan and heat it over medium-low heat. Stir in the cream and the maple sugar.
Notes: This is perfectly wonderful without the cream, if you prefer to leave the dairy out of the soup. Also, grapeseed oil is my preference, but use the cooking oil that suits you. Finally, if you have never tackled an acorn squash before, here is a CHOW video on a good way to halve one using a serrated knife. I usually just try to stabilize the squash on my cutting board and use my heaviest knife and carefully but firmly cut either between two ridges or from the bottom tip down through the stem. But, do be careful.
Maple Sugar is an ingredient that you might have a difficult time finding at your grocery store. I hope not. It is a fun ingredient to have around to play with for things where you would typically use brown sugar. I bought mine from Sugartree Maple Farm and, in fact, it is time to order more. But there are many mail order options. If you should get the chunky sort, you will need to grind it smooth for the crouton spice mix.
Some other great soup recipes on PIE: