Seasonal Flavors: Butternut Squash Soup

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We’ve all done it. We visit a restaurant, have a great meal and then come home and try to duplicate it. Believe me, when you do this successfully your friends are convinced that you are a talented and inventive cook. Oops—-my secret is out.

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately in Leesburg visiting my mother-in-law, who resides there in a very nice assisted living facility. It’s right in the heart of a quaint and walkable town, and mom, being Danish, is a big walker. My husband laments “she’s really slowing down, she can only walk a mile now.” My reply: “For cryin’ out loud the woman is 92 and asked me to walk a little faster last week!”

When visiting, Mom and I walk downtown, sample one of the fine restaurants, and then walk back. Our latest favorite is the Wine Kitchen. The other day, we ordered the butternut squash soup and then thought that the waiter had made a mistake when he brought our lunch. He placed in front of us a large, shallow bowl with a few vegetables and a sprig of fresh arugula. As I started to protest, he produced a small pitcher and poured the soup over the vegetables. Beautiful! Also, tasty! And the most astonishing part was when I realized that one of the vegetables was a roasted radish!

This is not trivial to prepare, but it is a beautiful presentation and I thank Andrew Grantz, the general manager of the Wine Kitchen, for being gracious when I said I would be telling the Crozet community about it. Note that this is not their recipe—it is my rendition. I call it more of a description.

Butternut Squash Soup with Roasted Vegetables

  • One carrot
  • 4 radishes
  • One parsnip
  • One sweet potato
  • One butternut squash
  • A few sprigs of arugula
  • Olive oil
  • 2 quarts, chicken broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Juice from half a lemon

Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds.  Place cut side down on an oiled cookie sheet and roast for about thirty minutes at 400oF, until the squash collapses.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Peel and cut the other vegetables until they are about an inch square.  Leave the radishes whole but cut off the ends.

Toss these vegetables in a little olive oil, put them on a second cookie sheet and roast in the hot oven until the vegetables are tender, about thirty minutes.

Heat the broth. Peel the squash and scrape into the soup. Use a blender or immersion mixer (my preference—less messy) and blend until smooth. Salt and pepper to taste. Add the lemon juice and mix thoroughly. Add the cream and heat gently—don’t let it curdle.

When ready to serve, put one of each of the roasted vegetables, and a sprig of arugula in the serving bowl and let your guests see it. Then very ceremoniously, add the soup.

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