In Praise of Butternut Squash
Butternut squash is one of my favorite vegetables to incorporate into fall and winter menus as it is at the peak of its freshness and pairs so well with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and yes maple. This versatile vegetable can go from dessert to a savory side easily and well, and can be used in soups, pies, ravioli, or twice baked as a side. Really, there are an endless number of options for this fall vegetable.
We don't get much of a Fall in Texas, but I do love the flavors and foods associated with fall--especially butternut squash and maple syrup in a hearty bowl of soup. Yes, you heard me right, maple syrup. I know that soups are not typically associated with this sweet syrup, but it can be the perfect balance to a savory soup to bring all of the flavors together as a wonderful "pop" in your mouth.
The recipe I use is simple yet turns out creamy and elegant. Topped with sage and pepitas, the dish is colorful as well for a beautiful start to your dinner or pair with a salad or sandwich for a satisfying lunch. Below is the recipe, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. If you make it, let me know how it turns out for you!
For the Soup:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter 1 small diced sweet onion 3 cloves of finely minced garlic 2 peeled and seeded large diced large butternut squash 1/2 cup bourbon (I like to use TX Bourbon as it is also great for sipping) 64 ounces chicken stock 1 cup heavy whipping cream 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon Sea salt and white pepper to taste
For the Maple Cream
2 cups heavy whipping cream ½ cup maple syrup (if you can find Grade B, this is better for cooking but Grade A will work)
In a large hot pot on medium-low heat with butter, caramelize the onions, about 20 to 25 minutes. Once brown, add in the garlic and saute until lightly browned and fragrant. Add in the butternut squash and cook for 10 minutes. Next, deglaze with bourbon and cook until the bourbon is mostly cooked out. Once the bourbon is almost gone, add in the stock and simmer on low heat until the butternut squash becomes tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Finish the soup with 1 cup of heavy cream and seasonings. Purée using an emersion blender or a blender.
Whip 1 pint of heavy cream until stiff peaks are formed and fold in maple syrup and chill until ready to serve.
Serve the soup with 1 tablespoon of the maple whipped cream and garnish with a fresh sage leaf and pepitas.