Butternut Squash Soup with Mint Pistou

I love a soup that is just as good hot as it is cold. With the unpredictable Oregon springtime weather, my lately medium-low attention span, and my busy schedule, having something quick and easy that can be served a few different ways is always nice.

Adapted from The Smitten Kitchen via Gourmet

6 T butter (or dairy-free margarine)
1 medium onion, sliced
2 lbs. butternut squash, peeled and sliced
2 carrots, sliced
1 yellow-flesh potato, peeled and sliced
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1 clove garlic
3/4 t mint
1/2 cup parsley
1 large green onion, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
2 T water

Cutting board
Chef’s Knife
Vegetable Peeler
Blender, standing or immersion
Large stock pot
Wooden spoon or spatula
Food processor or a little of patience
Cloth or paper towel, if using standing blender

Start by peeling and chopping up your vegetables nice and sloppy. The smaller the cuts, the faster it’ll all cook, but it really doesn’t matter; it’ll all be pureed into velvety, buttery deliciousness soon enough!

So, you’ve never cut open and peeled a squash before and feeling overwhelmed? Here’s a great little video to help you through it. Though the narrators are usually off-putting, online videos are a great way to learn knife cuts. And how to fancy braid your hair. Or fix a flat tire. And other things you may need to know right now for whatever reason.

Melt the butter in the big stock pot and cook the onions on very low. We don’t really want them to get caramelized or brown, just translucent. Resist the temptation to turn that heat up!

When the onions are soft, add in all the rest of the peeled and chopped vegetables. Pour in the chicken or vegetable stock and bring the whole thing to a boil, then turn the heat down to low again, letting the soup simmer for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, let’s make some pistou! Pistou sauce is traditionally just pesto without the pine nuts, and we’re going even further from tradition and using mint instead of basil. First, place the garlic clove in the bottom of the food processor and cover with the mint, parsley, and green onion. Pulse a few times before leaving the machine on high. Pour in little dribbles of olive oil and then water, stopping the machine and pushing down the sides as needed. Salt to taste.

The soup is done with the vegetables are tender when poked with a fork. Remove it from the heat. If you have an immersion blender, easy peasy: blend all of that stuff up until velvety.

If you are using a standing blender, read carefully. I often see contestants on Chopped act super confused at the problem of hot air expanding in a blender, and I wonder how they made it so far into their culinary careers without knowing this little tip. Ladle in about half a blender’s worth of soup,  remove the center from the lid, and drape a paper towel over the top of the blender. Cover with the lid, still without the center, and hit go. This approach lets the steam escape freely. It’ll keep the lid from popping off and hitting the ceiling, followed by an unpleasant geyser of burning squash soup. You can always let the soup cool before blending, but it will be more difficult to get a really smooth texture. Plus, duh, waiting, ugh!

It’s so smooth you’d think there was cream in it. This soup keeps really well, and is as delicious chilled as it is hot. Swirl a spoonful of mint pistou into each bowl and enjoy.

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