I love making soup at home, but I rarely buy it or order it at a restaurant. Most of the time I find the canned or boxed stuff is too salty for my taste and the ingredients sometimes end up with a weird texture. Why not order it at a restaurant? With a few exceptions (really good pho, Panera’s broccoli-cheese soup) there are usually so many other dishes I want to try that I’m not tempted by soup.
However, great things can happen when you don’t place your own order. Last year my company had a celebratory lunch at the Precinct, one of the best-known Jeff Ruby restaurants in Cincinnati. I think we got to choose our entrees, but the rest of the menu was set–including a curried butternut squash soup that was simply fantastic. Creamy, smooth and perfectly spiced.
When I later found Ellie Krieger’s recipe for curried butternut squash soup, I had to see how it matched up. Her recipe, while good, lacked the richness and mouthfeel I wanted to recreate and I found all the curry powder made the flavors a little one-note. Apologies to Ellie, but I de-healthified her recipe a bit to come up with this version. Let’s just say a little butter goes a long way. (You could also add some cream at the end to make it really decadent.)
The soup is great with butternut squash, but I’ve made it with buttercup too. Any other winter squash should work–just adjust the amount of honey to suite its sweetness and your tastes.
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 tsp curry powder (or use 3 tsp and skip the other spices)
- 1/2 tsp garam masala
- 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
- pinch of cinnamon
- dash of cayenne, optional
- 1 2-1/2-lb butternut or other winter squash, peeled, de-seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces (or about 2 lbs frozen squash chunks)
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 tbsp honey
- To garnish: Greek yogurt or creme fraiche, roasted pumpkin or squash seeds (I used Somewhat Spicy Superseeds–they’re addictive!)
- 1 whole-grain naan round or large pita, cut into four wedges and toasted, optional
- Heat the oil and butter in a Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. When the butter melts, add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, 5-7 minutes until softened but not browned.
- Add the salt and spices and cook another minute, stirring constantly, until the vegetables are coated.
- Add the squash and stock to the pot, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the squash is tender, about 15 minutes.
- Stir in the honey.
- Carefully puree the soup in the pot with an immersion blender until very, very smooth. Or, puree it in batches in a regular blender. (Remove the center insert from the lid and cover the hole with a clean kitchen towel before blending.)
- Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning. You may need a little more honey depending on how sweet your squash was, or you might want more spice.
- Ladle the soup into bowls. Garnish each bowl with a spoonful of yogurt and a sprinkle of roasted pumpkin or squash seeds, and serve with a wedge of warm toasted naan.
*Nutrition facts calculated with chicken stock and without garnishes