What’s different about this squash soup? Compared to my old ones, almost everything. First, it’s pure squash puree this time. No more potatoes to thicken the soup.
One-half of a whole calabaza (Cucurbita moschata) was used in this recipe. Butternut squash would be the closest equivalent in the northern hemisphere.
Second, the addition of herbes de Provence, a commercial blend of herbs, available in the spice section of the grocery, that mimics the flavors of the cooking in Provence. The most common components are rosemary, thyme, oregano, savory and marjoram.
The rich flavors of the soup come mostly from caramelization. The squash is cut into wedges, spread on a baking tray then roasted in the oven until the edges are lightly browned (like I said, it’s about caramelization) and the squash is so soft that it can be easily mashed with the back of a fork.
But it isn’t just the squash that is caramelized. Chopped onion and herbes de Provence are cooked slowly in butter until the onion bits are soft and browned. Again, caramelization.
Chicken broth is poured into the pan with the browned onion and the roasted squash is added. Once the soup boils, it is fully cooked. All you have to do is adjust the seasonings. But it’s still chunky at this point.
The pan is taken off the heat, an immersion blender is plunged in and the vegetables are processed until the mixture turns into a paste. Too thick, right? It looks like mashed squash and not squash soup. So, the pan goes on the stove once more.
Over low heat, cream is drizzled in and the soup is stirred until it reaches a pourable consistency. If adding nothing but cream at this point screams too rich! for you, there are two options. Either use half-and-half (that’s half cream and half milk) or dilute the cream with chicken broth.
About the consistency of the squash soup. It’s a soup. It’s not a sauce and it’s not a savory pudding. Squash soup is thick but it should be perfectly pourable.
Roast the squash
- Preheat the oven to 375F.
- Spray a baking tray with oil.
- Cut off the skin of the squash, scoop out and discard the seeds, then cut into wedges.
- Spread the squash wedges on the prepared tray.
- Roast at 375F for ten minutes. Turn down the temperature to 325F and cook for another 20 minutes until soft enough to squish with the back of a fork.
Make a spice base
- In a pot, melt the butter.
- Spread the chopped onion on the hot butter and allow to soften, with occasional stirring, over medium-low heat.
- Add a teaspoonful of salt, two pinches of ground pepper and the herbes de Provence.
- Cook the onion, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned.
Complete the squash soup
- Pour in half of the broth and bring to a simmer (add more salt and pepper if your broth is unseasoned or underseasoned).
- Add the roasted squash to the broth and cook until boiling gently. Turn off the heat.
- Using an immersion blender, puree the squash and onion in the pot until smooth.
- Set the pot over low heat and pour in the cream. Stir until smooth.
- Slowly add more broth, stirring as your pour, until the creamy pureed squash reaches the consistency of a thick soup.
- Taste, and add more salt and pepper, if needed.
- Ladle the squash soup into bowls and, optionally, top with chopped mint before serving.