It was all Hallow’s Eve this West World Wednesday. The night of mischief, when the veil between worlds lift and those on the other side dance with mortals. We were in store for a spooky evening, replacing our weekly show with a creepy classic Halloween.
I decided to finish off the month of October with a horror movie and a big bowl of Butternut Squash Soup topped with homemade croutons and bacon. Something comforting and warm as you watch Micheal seek out revenge on the town that sent him away.
Butternut Squash Soup
1 Butternut Squash, 7 C Cubed
½ Tsp Cinnamon
½ Tsp Garlic Powder
¼ Tsp Ground Cloves
¾ Tsp Salt
¾ Tsp Pepper
1 Yellow Onion, Chopped
2 Tbsp Butter
16 Oz Vegetable Stock
1-2 C Whole Milk
I love making soup, you can make it ahead of time and be confident that the second time you heat up that pot those flavors will be deeper and more well rounded. For me, this soup makes a mess. I only have a small smoothie blender and have to blend my squash in batches, which you can imagine can get orange puree everywhere.
My kitchen was a bit of a war zone. And when this happens I am in battle mode and prefer no one see me like that. Therefore, making this mess and this soup ahead of time is amazing. That way when my guests arrive all I need to do is to heat it up in a perfectly “clean” kitchen.
In a large bowl drizzle cubed butternut squash with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder, cinnamon, and ground cloves. Get your hands in there and mix around, making sure all pieces are healthily coated in spices. Choose a large bowl for this adventure, mine was just the right size to fit all my squash so of course, some ended up on the floor while I was mixing.
Spread out on a large cookie sheet, or two if the one seems too crowded, and place in the middle of a 375℉ oven. Cook until extremely soft, a spoon should easily tear these cubes apart, about 40-45 minutes.
While these jewels are roasting away in your oven set a large soup pot or dutch oven on medium heat. Place about 2 Tbsp of butter in the warm pot and move around to melt along the bottom. Butter melting in a hot pot is probably one of my favorite things, the way it slowly shrinks to the overwhelming inferno and then adding sliced onions to the mix to sizzle. It is a specific smell, cooking onions in butter, that fills my nose and brings me back to so many kitchens. You could recognize that aroma from the second floor and you knew that dinner would be ready soon.
Sprinkle with salt and remember to stir occasionally as these slices move through their caramelization process. If they remain still over the flame they will easily burn, and burned onions are not the same as caramelized onions. They will first begin to sweat, then they will start to lose their color and become translucent, finally, they will brown and the sugars will break down and caramelize the onions. This process is a slow 20-30 minutes. Don’t rush it.
When all parts are cooked, squash is extra soft and onions are caramelized, remove from all heat. Set up your blender; if you have an immersion blender put squash and vegetable stock into the same pot as the onions and go to town, slowly add milk to achieve your desired consistency. As I mentioned I own a smoothie blender, my small apartment gets small appliances. I did a few batches of squash and onions in my 3 C blender, adding vegetable stock to each batch to prevent the thick puree from becoming stuck. After each batch, I poured the puree into my dutch oven and set up for the next.
Once my blender, my counter, and my hands were covered in thick orange mush and a majority of the puree was sitting safely in my dutch oven over low heat, I added about 2 cups of whole milk. I used the same pot I cooked my onions in so that leftover butter coating the bottom would not go to waste.
Give the soup a few stirs to thoroughly combine milk. Bring to room temperature before covering the pot and storing it in the refrigerator if you are making it ahead of time.
Whether you are creating this soup three days before you need it or three hours the next step is the same. I cannot resist topping my butternut squash soup with fatty bacon. Chop bacon into small pieces and fry in high heat in a skillet. I like to use my cast iron skillet that way the remaining fat can season my hardworking pan. Cook until nice and crispy then set aside in a bowl for the table.
Hold on to your hats, and grasp that hot skillet with some oven mitts to pour about 1 Tbsp of fat into your soup. When it is readily available how can you not add a little extra flavor.
Top your portions with bacon, grated parmesan cheese and homemade croutons (recipe below) and enjoy!
Homemade Garlic Croutons
1 C Torn Breadcrumbs
2 Cloves Garlic, Chopped
3 Tbsp Butter
⅛ Tsp Paprika
Yields: 1 C
Tear into a few slices of Italian bread or French bread to create 1 C of crumbs, mine varied in sizes. Lay out on a cookie sheet or plate overnight to stale your bread.
The next day, chop 2 cloves of garlic and add to melted butter in a small saucepan. Cook together for five minutes before adding breadcrumbs. Stir to ensure all crumbs are sufficiently buttered then sprinkle with salt, pepper, and paprika. Cook until evenly toasted about 8-10 minutes on low heat.