Thanksgiving is so close I can almost taste it. All those wonderful, familiar, harvest comfort foods together on one table. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday by far, centered around what I love to do most: cook and eat. Thanksgiving first began in 1621 with a shared meal between the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians. It was not until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held the final Thursday in November.
In modern times, Thanksgiving celebrations have lost much of their original religious significance and have become more about family, bountiful foods and celebration. According to the National Turkey Federation, in the US 90% of Americans eat turkey roasted, baked or deep-fried on this food-focused holiday. Anything is doable food-wise on Thanksgiving, which is something I love. This is my more classic butternut squash soup, which pays homage to the holiday’s origins as pumpkin and squash were crops grown by the Wampanoags.
With flavorings of brown sugar, ginger, garlic and cinnamon, this chicken-stock based pureed soup is simple but elegant, and a great complement to any holiday meal. This is also an easy make-ahead soup. I recommend serving it in small cups at the start of your holiday meal to welcome family and friends to your holiday table.
Butternut Squash Soup
- 2 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch dice
- 4 tablespoons Extra Virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 large yellow onion, sliced
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
- 3 garlic cloves, grated
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 5-6 cups of good quality chicken stock
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- dash of white pepper
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- fresh thyme sprigs, for garnish
- Step 1 Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Step 2 Place the butternut squash onto a sheet pan. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Using your hands, gently toss to coat. Place in the oven and roast until tender, about 45-50 minutes.
- Step 3 In a large stockpot add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Place over medium-low heat and when hot, but not smoking, add the onions, brown sugar, ginger, garlic and cinnamon stick. Mix well to coat and cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 15 minutes.
- Step 4 Add the roasted butternut squash, and 5 cups chicken stock. Bring the soup to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
- Step 5 When cool enough to handle, pour the soup into the bowl of a kitchen mixer, such as a Cuisinart, fitted with a blade attachment. Puree the soup on high until completely blended and smooth. Add the salt, pepper and heavy cream. Blend until well incorporated. Adjust the seasoning as needed. If making the soup ahead, place in the refrigerator as is.
- Step 6 If serving right away, pour the pureed soup back into the stock pot and heat over a low flame until warm. Garnish with a thyme sprig. Note: You can add a small amount of additional chicken stock if you wish to thin the soup out further. Often this is needed after the soup has been refrigerated. Make sure to taste and adjust the seasoning as needed if you add additional liquid.