There are hundreds of butternut squash recipes, but this particular one is my favorite. It became a family recipe, so much that we were unable to find it in any of our cookbooks — the only copy of it now is written on the back of a receipt, covered in squash.
Apart from butternut squashes and onions, almost all of this soup’s ingredients tend to be household items, many of which can be bought locally at various locations, including Athens’s Bulk Food Depot on Radford Road. The recipe also includes tamari, which is a less salty, fuller-tasting soy sauce. Tamari is generally wheat-free and will lend its smoky flavor to the soup. The ideal butternut squashes are a muted orange (instead of pale peach).
Prep time: approximately an hour and a half
The recipe is as follows:
- 6 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed
- 5 cups water
- 2 cups chopped onions
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1/3 cup white flour
- ¾ cup milk — you can use whatever variety you happen to have on hand, although I would recommend using a variety of dairy or soy milk.
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon tamari
- Olive oil
- Pepper, to taste
- Optional: ½ cup of slivered almonds or walnuts (added during the last five minutes of cooking or sprinkled on top).
- Peel your squash, gut the insides (which are similar to the insides of a pumpkin), and then cut it into fairly equal-sized cubes. My pieces are usually about half an inch or larger in size.
- In a large pot, combine five cups of water for every six cups of squash. This does not have to be exact.
- Bring to a boil, and let cook for about 25 minutes, or until tender. I usually use a fork to test the tenderness.
- Meanwhile, combine thyme and onion in a pan and sauté until tender. Generally a clear look to the onions is desirable and takes under ten minutes.
- Strain the squash into a colander. I usually place a medium-sized bowl under the colander to catch some of the water, which is full of nutrients. I later use the water to thin down the soup or make the squash easier to blend.
- In a blender or food processor, combine squash, onion and milk, and puree. If your blender isn’t catching the vegetables, add a tiny bit of the water you set aside.
- Rinse out the large pot used to boil the squash, and add your butter. Melt over a low heat, and then add flour. Slowly stir in squash/milk/onion mixture.
- Add ginger, tamari, salt, and pepper (if desired).
- To thin your soup, add milk or water. Thicken your soup with flour.
- Cook for an additional ten minutes or until hot.
- Add walnuts or almonds if desired, and serve.
- To warm up leftovers, add a bit of water and microwave or heat on stove-top.
Using local, in-season ingredients like butternut squash and onions ensures fresh, nutrient-rich foods. Frequently, “fresh” produce at supermarkets takes days to arrive, and may have been picked at an unripe stage, so that it could ripen in transit. Studies suggest that fruits and vegetables begin to lose vital nutrients within 7 days of being picked (Meal Time).
Buying locally also helps to keep money in the community. Studies show that only 43 percent of money spent at a chain store remains in the local economy, whereas local purchases keep 68 percent of the money spent in the community.
This butternut squash soup is a great way to end the fall season.