Divine adaptable squash soup

Oh my gosh. Fall is everywhere. The leaves are falling, the air is crisp, and bright red and orange hues are everywhere you look: trees, sunset, this soup. A few weeks ago, I stopped by the food chain Au Bon Pain for a quick snack while walking home. They had a harvest pumpkin soup that sounded like just the warm concoction for my stroll. (I poured it into a coffee cup to make it easy to sip on the go — a genius idea, by the way.)

The soup lingered with me in the best of ways. It had depth in flavor. It wasn’t outright sweet like most squash soups or super spicy as a savory variant might be. It was just perfectly balanced. I was determined to make my squash soups at home taste as complex.

If you check out the ingredients list on the ABP website, you can get a springboard for recreating the soup at home. I also found this blog post by a fellow obsessed soup fan who had some luck trying it on her own.

I decided to start with that recipe, but I found that the soup felt overly sweet. Something definitely felt like it was missing. Often, when a soup or salad is properly salted but still feels sweet, I find that what is missing is the vinegar. Vinegar or other sour ingredients round out the flavor palate and help you taste the spices in a dish more fully. It’s the unsung hero that shouldn’t kick you in the mouth but serves a very important purpose.

So my variation of this soup is after the jump. It’s definitely not a copy of the ABP soup, but it is a delicious derivative.

I have 10 mason jars of it frozen in my freezer, and I am really looking forward to having it regularly this fall. One great thing about this soup is that you can substitute any fall squash in for the pumpkin: I opted for butternut and acorn, my two faves. This is definitely the recipe where your surplus squash should go this season.

Divine Adaptable Squash Soup

Start by melting 4 tbsp. of unsalted butter in a deep soup pot over medium heat. Add 1 cup of diced yellow onion and saute until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Careful not to brown it! Add 1/2 cup each of diced celery and carrots and 1 bay leaf. Stir.

Add in the following spices: 1/3 cup of packed brown sugar, 1 tbsp. ground cinnamon, 1 tsp. ginger powder, 1 tsp. sea salt (coarse or fine are okay, just adjust to taste), about a 1/4 tsp. of cayenne pepper, and a dash of ground nutmeg.

Next, add your soup liquids: 1 cup whole milk, 2 tbsp. tomato paste, 2 tbsp. white wine vinegar, 4 cups of squash flesh from roasted squashes (my preference: one butternut and one acorn), and 4 cups of chicken broth (homemade* is best).

Blend the soup with an immersion blender, or by pouring it in small amounts into a blender. Return to the pot and simmer on a low heat for at least 30 minutes. Taste and adjust salt as needed. The flavors will deepen as the soup sits in your fridge. Freeze after a day if you plan to save it.

Serves 8.

*To make homemade chicken broth, take the bones from a roasted chicken and place them in a soup pot with 1 halved onion, 3 chopped celery sticks, 2 chopped carrots, 1 bay leaf, and 1 tsp. salt. Cover completely with water, but do not add more liquid than is needed to immerse the ingredients. Bring the broth up to boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook low and slow all night long. Give the broth at least 5 hours, but overnight is best. Strain and cool before portioning out the broth to freeze. Stores for up to 6 months in the freezer and a week or so in the fridge.

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