Monday, April 16, 2012

Butternut Squash Velvet

Velvet? Okay, this is really just butternut squash soup. But it's really, really good soup. And hey, velvet does make it sound fancy, right?

For some reason, soups always seemed mysterious to me. When my Mom made soup when I was younger, I never watched it being made. As far as I was concerned, soup either came out of can or it emerged from the kitchen, the result of an alchemical process beyond my limited muggle abilities.

It turns out, soup isn't that hard to make. You cut up some ingredients, put them into a stock pot, cook it for a while, and then you blend it. When you do this with butternut squash, what you get is a soup that is pleasantly sweet, salty, and savory. It's also hearty enough to round out a light meal.

Most importantly, it's a great way to start making soups. There are more difficult soups out there; this isn't one of them. This recipe may not reveal the secret to turning metal into gold, but it will get you turning fresh vegetables into tasty soups in no time.

First, grab your leeks and an onion and get chopping. Since everything will be pureed, don't worry too much about making sure everything is even.

Dice 3/4 of an onion into 1-inch piece. Likewise, dice the leeks until you have about a cup or so. It's important to wash the leeks. To do so, slice the leeks lengthwise so you can fan out the layers under running water. Once the leeks are clean of dirt, they're ready to be sliced.

Next, take the butternut squash and peel it. Then, cut it into 2 inch pieces. 1 butternut squash should yield around 4 cups of cubed squash.

Now, heat a large saucepan or stockpot over medium-high heat. Drop in 3 tbsp of butter melt it. 

Once fragrant, put the leeks and onion into the pan. Saute for a couple of minutes. 

Next, add the cubed butternut squash and a good grind of pepper and cook for a couple minutes.

Then, put the chicken stock (or vegetable stock) and water into the pan, along with a little olive oil and salt. Bring to a boil and cover partially. Reduce heat to low and boil gently for 15- 20 minutes, or until the squash is tender. To test the squash, run a paring knife through it. If it slides through easily, you're set.

Now the fun part. Emulsify the mixture with an immersion blender until smooth. Alternatively, you can use a regular blender or food processor. But you have to let it cool down quite a bit first. The immersion blender is more convenient and they are relatively cheap. If you're planning to get into making soup, having an immersion blender is invaluable. 

As I said, emulsify until smooth. You can stop short of making the soup perfectly smooth if you want chunks of vegetables to remain distinct in the soup. 

At some point during the simmering process, you'll want to prepare the garnish. Take 1/4 to 1/3 cup of pistachio nuts and crush them. 

Ladle the soup into a bowl and garnish with the pistachios. If you have herbs, you may also garnish with fresh chervil, dill, chopped fresh tarragon, or chives. I'm a fan of fresh dill here.



1 butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled, seeded, and cut into 2-inch pieces.
3/4 cup diced (1-inch) onion
1-2 cups sliced leek (about 2 leeks), including some (not a lot) of the lighter green inner leaves (note: be sure to get ride of the dark, tough green leaves)
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
1 cup water


1/3 - 1/4 cup crushed pistachio nuts
A few sprigs of fresh chervil, dill, chopped fresh tarragon, or chives

Recipe courtesy of Jacques Pépin's More Fast Food My Way - Episode 214, Sole-ful Suppertime

For more on the great Monsieur Pépin, see my previous post discussing him. 


  1. Adding pistachios is clever. I would have never thought of that.

  2. Sometimes I actually have to add more pistachios because they're so good.

  3. I add a teaspoon or so of curry powder and dark brown sugar for a slightly exotic flavor! Nice recipe.