November 1, 2012

squash soup with croutons

It's getting chilly these days and the weather is strongly calling for soups. I had these lovely organic butternut squash and orange kabocha squash (aka red kuri squash, "kuri" meaning "chestnuts" in Japanese) from a local farm, some stale sourdough bread on the kitchen counter and it was cold outside. There was no way to pass up on the opportunity.

The beauty of using soft-skinned butternut and/or orange kabocha is that you don't have to peel them (unless you're using non-organic or the skin is unusually tough). Regular kabocha can affect the color of the soup because of its green skin (which could be perfect for St. Patrick's day). Just clean it up a little bit by removing the blemishes and the hard bits on the outside.

Here I kept the soup very simple by seasoning it with just salt to bring out the natural sweetness of the squash and to balance it with the herb-baked croutons. Have fun and change the recipe around. Roast the squash until caramelized to intensify the sweet flavor. The soup can be seasoned with white miso to give it a mellow taste. Add crushed garlic or nutritional yeast when making the croutons to give them a little more pizazz. Hmm... I'm craving for more. 

Squash soup 

5 cups winter squash, cubed
2-3 cups vegetable stock (make your own with vegetable scraps)
salt to taste

Homemade croutons
3 cups sourdough bread, cubed

1 TBS olive oil
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp dried basil

salt and pepper to taste

parsley and pepper to garnish

  1. Place the cubed squash in a pot and add 1 1/2 cup of the stock. Sprinkle some salt, cover and let it come to a boil. Lower the flame and cook until the squash becomes soft, about 15-20 minutes.  
  2. Prepare the croutons while the squash is cooking. Mix all the ingredients and place it on a baking pan. Bake at 375°F (preheated) for 15 minutes, giving the mixture a stir half way through. 
  3. Blend the cooked squash along with the rest of the stock. Use 1/2 cup if you want it thick and add more if you want to make it lighter. Season the soup with salt and return to the pot to warm up. 
  4. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with croutons. Garnish with freshly ground pepper and parsley.

If you love kabocha squash as much as I
do, you might also want to try kabocha custard and kabocha salad with sesame dressing.

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