Firm, carotenoid-containing vegetables like butternut squash are perfect candidates for roasting.
“Traditional pureed soup recipes call for fats at practically every stage of the cooking,” admits James Peterson, author of “Splendid Soups.”
That’s because they’re typically made with vegetables cooked in butter, thickened with bread cooked in butter, then finished with butter, cream, sour cream or coconut milk.
Say what you will about the squash family’s thick-skinned reputation, a zap in the microwave speeds preparation along.
Then chop and roast the squash in the oven; high heat will quickly soften the flesh and caramelize the starches.
When taken for a whirl in a food processor, the result is Roasted Butternut Squash Soup, a smooth and satisfying puree without any butter and very little added fat.
Cooking tip: Butternut squash is hard and has a tough skin; use caution when cutting it.
To make it easier to cut, pierce the squash, then microwave on high for 1 to 2 minutes, then let it stand 2 to 3 minutes before cutting.
Cut squash in half, scoop out seeds, peel (with a knife or a vegetable peeler) and cut into cubes.
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Makes 6 servings (about 7 cups)
4 cloves garlic, not peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 butternut squash, about 2 3/4 pounds
1 small to medium sweet yellow onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 carrots, peeled and sliced about 3/4-inch thick
4 to 6 sage leaves, thinly sliced
½ teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper, plus additional pepper to taste, divided
1 (32-ounce) carton vegetable stock
1/4 teaspoon rubbed sage
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 10- by 15-inch jelly roll pan with aluminum foil.
Place the unpeeled garlic cloves on a 6-inch square of aluminum foil. Drizzle about ½ teaspoon olive oil over garlic; bring aluminum foil up over garlic to make a packet. Set on edge of aluminum foil-covered pan.
Using a large, heavy knife, cut off ends of squash. Peel using a vegetable peeler. Cut squash in half, remove and discard seeds. Cut squash into 1 to 1 ½-inch cubes.
Place squash in a mixing bowl. Add onion and carrots. Drizzle vegetables with remaining olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and sage leaves; toss to coat vegetables evenly. Spread in a single layer on prepared pan. Bake, uncovered, 20 minutes; stir squash and carrot mixture, then continue roasting 15 to 20 minutes or until vegetables are very tender and golden brown. (There is no need to stir the garlic.)
Allow roasted vegetables to cool slightly. Spoon roasted vegetables into blender or work bowl of food processor. Carefully open garlic packet, allowing steam to escape. When cool enough to handle, squeeze roasted garlic out of skin and add the garlic to the vegetables.
Blend until smooth. (Add a little vegetable stock if needed.) Spoon puree into saucepan.
Blend in vegetable stock and rubbed sage. Season to taste with pepper. Heat over medium until hot.