Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Butternut squash soup

Jason and I had dinner at our favorite restaurant, Ten Tables, a few weeks ago. Their butternut squash soup was so fabulous that I couldn't help asking for the recipe. I was willing to send them an e-mail and patiently wait for the answer, but Joshua Caswell, the sous-chef, said he'll write it up for me while we were having tea. For a Saturday dinner rush, that was quite amazing. That's why I don't work in a restaurant. I can't multi-task like that.

I've made this fabulous soup twice now and each time it disappeared too quickly. I can't recall how many versions of butternut squash soup I must have made in the past 10 years. At least 10. This one is by far the best. The vinegar adds balance to all the sugar of squash and syrup. Soups made with roasted squash seem to have better flavor, but the ones made with fresh one have better texture. This one is the best of both worlds since it calls for half roasted and half fresh. Hefty quantities of cream and butter don't hurt either. What can I say... it's autumnal perfection.

Thank you so much to Joshua, David, and all the cooks of Ten Tables for being such a bottomless source of inspiration.

Here is my adaptation of Ten Tables' soup.

Serves 6-8

2.5 Lb butternut squash (1 medium)
4 Tbsp butter
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 leek, white and pale green parts only, diced (see leek cleaning instructions)
3 garlic cloves, minced
2-3 sprigs thyme, tied with kitchen string
1 inch ginger, peeled
1/3 cup heavy cream
8 cups water, chicken stock (low-sodium boxed is fine), or vegetable stock (only if homemade)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
Salt to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
  2. Cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise and again in half crosswise to form 4 quarters (2 will be round with the seeds, and 2 will be solid flesh). Remove the seeds from the round pieces, rub them with 1 Tbsp olive oil, place on a foil lined rimmed baking sheet and roast in the bottom third of the oven until tender and nicely browned, 30-40 minutes. Peel the other two pieces of squash (the ones you aren't roasting), and cut them into 3/4 inch dice.
  3. Set a 4 quart soup pot over medium-low heat. Add the butter, onion, leek, and a generous pinch of salt. Cook stirring occasionally until tender and translucent. Regulate heat so that no color develops. Add the garlic, ginger, and thyme and continue to cook until aromatic, 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the diced squash and scooped out flesh of roasted squash and stir to coat. Cook over medium heat stirring often until the diced squash just started to get soft around the edges, about 15 minutes.
  5. Add 2 Tbsp heavy cream and enough water, vegetable stock, or chicken stock to cover the squash by about an inch. Taste and season to taste with salt. Bring to a simmer and cook until the squash is totally soft, 30-40 minutes.
  6. Remove the chunk of ginger and thyme bundle. Puree in a blender, stir in the remainder of cream (about 1/4 cup or less if you are on a diet), maple syrup, and cider vinegar. If you like a really silky soup, strain it. If the soup is too thick to your liking, add more water or stock. Taste and correct seasoning, adding more salt, maple syrup, and cream as needed.


Unknown said...

ooh, i just heard someone mention ten tables!! i'll have to put it on my list of places to try :) this sounds amazing!

Anonymous said...

what a terrific idea to do half roasted/half fresh. I'm going to try it with the delicattas I bought tonight!

Anonymous said...

Just a question...

Looking at the Ten Tables menu I notice the soup now being offered includes nutmeg and creme fraiche.

I'm assuming this is a variation they do but I'm curious what you think of using these ingredients in your adaptation.

Thanks in advance.

Helen said...

They top it with creme fraiche when they serve it. That makes it even more decadent. I am sure there are infinite variations on this basic recipe. If you like nutmeg, cinnamon, etc, by all means use them. I am not big on all the "pumpkin pie" spices, so when I use them, I use them sparingly, but if you like them, you can use as much as you want.


Anonymous said...

I am wondering if I should make this or your "pumpkin" soup resipe. Is this one better?

Anonymous said...

Every soup I've had at ten tables has been AMAZING. I can still vividly remember the first one I had there: amazing spring pea with a crab salad.

And their Tuesday wine dinners/Wednesday prix fixes are such a great value.

Helen said...


This one is better!


Jean Z. said...

This recipe is definitely on deck for this weekend's menu. Thanks for the post -- Jean

Anonymous said...

Lovely soup for autumn. It's a nice choice for Thanksgiving dinner. I make one very similar, sans garlic and maple syrup. Instead, I often use Kabocha squash (very creamy), a couple of apples and nutmeg to the basic recipe you posted.

Helen said...

I love the idea of adding apples! That probably accomplishes a similar goal as adding maple syrup plus vinegar (sweetness and acidity)

Anonymous said...

Mmmm... delicious. I made this tonight, substituting an acorn suash for the roasted half and butternut for the non-roasted half (what I had on hand), and threw in a diced green apple after the leeks and onions had cooked, but otherwise followed the recipe. It was absolutely delicious (many contented sighs around the table), although next time I may hold back on the syrup a little.

Anna said...

I went through a lot of squash recipes online but settled on this one:-) I am going to try it out now and if it works I will serve it at Thanksgiving dinner. I have never used a leek. I think it was $3.99 per pound in whole foods and I threw half of it away because I removed the green part. Are leek tops ever used for anything? I cannot decide between the apple and maple syrup and cream vs milk. I am not sure if I asked before but do you have a cream brand preference? Everything I have tried tastes very bad. I once saw that JP Licks uses a cream brand for their ice cream that does not sell to stores but I cannot remember what it was. Cream suggestions appreciated and thank you for this recipe!

Helen said...

Leek tops are used in stocks. You don't have to use a leek, can replace it with yellow onion or shallots. I've never used milk in soups. I don't think it would do anything. Use cream. The goal hear is a richer mouth feel. High Lawn cream is good and available at whole foods.