What a nurturing and delicious soup! Yesterday when I felt a bit under the weather, the winter squash we picked up at the market the day before were calling to me. By combining the best of a few different recipes, I came up with a great recipe to share with you. A most glorious, quick, healthy (vegan, gluten and dairy-free), rich, satisfying Winter Squash Soup with Apple & Ginger.
In the world of winter squash, my favorite is kabocha squash, about the sweetest squash I’ve ever eaten. My next choice is buttercup squash, which is nearly as sweet as kabocha. And my third choice is the most easily available of the three, butternut squash—third choice because butternut seems to vary a lot in both sweetness and richness of color.
Apples are in season at the same time as winter squash and their inclusion is a great way to round out the soup’s flavor. The addition of fresh ginger gives a little background heat and keeps the soup from being too sweet. A great combination all around.
Make use of the squash peel and seeds
When you have a few extra minutes, be sure to make a pot of vegetable stock using the peel and seeds from your winter squash for an additional layer of squash flavor in the soup. This is a technique you can use almost whenever you make soup—prepare your own stock with some of the cast-offs from the main ingredients, i.e., corn stock using the cobs, chicken stock using the bones and leek and potato using the leek’s deeper green leaves .
Peeling winter squash isn’t much fun
You definitely want a sharp and strong peeler as the squash skin is thick and rather difficult to peel. Alternatively, put a large pot of water on the stove. Add the squash and bring the water to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer the squash for 4-5 minutes. Then rinse the squash in cold water so you can handle it. The skin can now easily be peeled away with either a peeler or a sharp knife.
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Winter Squash Soup w/ Apple and Ginger
Delicious, rich and nurturing besides being quick, easy and both dairy and gluten-free
Makes about 16 cups
5 pounds winter squash such as butternut, buttercup or kabocha
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1½ tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup peeled and finely chopped ginger
2 teaspoons sea salt
1¼ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground poultry seasoning OR sage
3 medium apples, peeled, cored, roughly chopped (3 cups)
8 cups *unsalted vegetable stock (see recipe below)
Additional vegetable stock to thin soup, if necessary
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Garnish: thinly sliced scallion
Wash the squash and peel it. Use the peelings and seeds in preparing the stock. Chop the squash flesh into 1- inch chunks. You should have about 11 cups of squash.
Place the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Stir in the onion and cook, covered until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove the lid and stir in the ginger. Continue to cook uncovered just until the onion begins to color. Add the spices then stir in the squash and diced apple. Add 7½ cups of vegetable stock to just barely cover the squash and apple.
Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat and cook partially covered until the squash is soft, about 15 minutes.
Puree the soup in a blender in a number of batches until smooth and return the soup to the pot. Use ½ cup of the reserved stock to clean up the sides of the blender jar. If the soup is too thick, thin with additional stock as necessary. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste.
Serve garnished with thinly sliced scallions.
*Note, if you use salted vegetable stock, only use a pinch of salt when sautéing the vegetables. Then adjust the salt to taste at the end.
Quick Vegetable Stock for Winter Squash Soup
Makes 8-9 cups
Peel and seeds from about 5 pounds of winter squash
1½ cups unpeeled, coarsely chopped onion
1 cup coarsely chopped carrots
1 cup coarsely chopped celery
2 medium cloves garlic, peeled
1/8 teaspoon whole peppercorns
10 cups water
Place all ingredients together in a large pot. Bring to a boil and lower the heat so the stock simmers. Cook the stock, partially covered for 35 minutes. Strain through a sieve pressing as much liquid as you can from the vegetables, then discard them.
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