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Silky Butternut Squash Soup with Lavender and Rosemary

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Get ready for a delicious, healthy, aromatic and comforting way to eat your vegetables!  A fall and winter favorite, this thick butternut squash soup is packed with vegetables.  If that wasn't good enough, the sweet flavor and scent of lavendar and rosemary make it outright irresistible. You will swear this soup is so silky smooth it must have cream or at least butter in it, but there is none at all!

This makes 8-10 soup bowl servings, so it is a considerable amount of soup--perfect for a large family gathering.  As with most soups, it gets better the next day, and it will keep for several days beyond that.  Consider halving the recipe if you have a small group of eaters, however.

Handling butternut squash can be a challenge due to its stiffness as well as the reaction to your skin if you handle it for too long.  Either put on some cooking- or surgical-style latex or vinyl gloves, and use a good chef's knife for cutting the squash.  If you don't have gloves, coat your hands in a little olive oil first, then wash your hands after preparing the squash.

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 sprigs of lavender
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves picked
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, trimmed and chopped
  • 4 1/2 lbs. butternut squash, halved, de-seeded and cut into chunks (say 1 1/2 in by 2 in)
  • 2 quarts low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. In a large saucepan or stock pot, pour in the olive oil and place on medium heat.  Once the oil has heated, add the lavender and fry for about 30 seconds to flavor the oil.  Be ready for a great aroma...
  2. Add in the garlic, onions, carrots and celery.  Add a nice pinch of salt and pepper, and cook the vegetables for about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the squash and stock, and bring to a boil.  Then, simmer for 30 minutes, until the squash is very soft.
  4. Let the soup cool a little, then blend smooth.  You can use an immersion blender, or a standalone blender.  If the latter, let the soup cool more, and blend it in batches, a half blender-ful at a time.  Don't place the lid on completely and use a kitchen towel to hold the lid on while you blend the hot batches.
  5. Serve up the soup in bowls with some nice bread like French or Focaccia, or garlic croutons.

Notes:

 If you can find it, the lavendar makes this soup extra special.  If you can't find it, try extra rosemary or other herbs like sage in the hot oil.

If the squash are a little too big, adding up closer to 5 lbs., add another cup or two of stock to keep the texture from getting too thick--unless you like a bisque-like thickness.

 

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