Though pumpkin takes centerstage throughout fall and winter, butternut squash really deserves some time in the spotlight, too. Butternut squash is packed with flavor, sweetens when roasted, and caramelizes beautifully. My husband is an avid gardener, and this recipe was inspired by some butternut squash I harvested from our front-yard garden. The fall’s gentle, temperatures here in coastal New England extend the growing season a tiny bit, so we’ll be enjoying a generous pile of squash this winter!
For this soup, I paired the squash with the warm, savory flavors of chili and cumin to balance the squash’s natural sweetness. The coconut oil lends it a subtle richness, and the final swirl of coconut milk (or cream) gives it a velvety texture.
I am a fan of any recipe that helps me save time in the kitchen. This recipe can be a serious boost to your weekly meal prep if you double the amount of roasted squash. I love to roast a big batch, and then enjoy the extra in salads, side dishes, or even eat on its own. Because, really, if you’re going to go to the trouble of firing up the oven and creating some dirty dishes, why not make enough to feed yourself for days? To make extra squash, simply double the amount of squash, spices, salt, and coconut oil, and then set aside half of the roasted squash for use in the soup.
For this recipe, you can start with either a whole butternut squash, OR you can take advantage of the pre-cut squash available at most supermarkets. Do not use frozen squash for this recipe because it will not roast well.
If the thought of cutting hard butternut squash strikes fear in your heart, no worries! It can be done safely (and easily!), without losing a finger. You see, I love a good deal when I see one, and I hate spending extra $ on pre-cut squash if it’s no big deal to do it on my own. It’s definitely cheaper to buy it whole, and in purchasing it whole, you get the benefit of extended shelf life compared to pre-cut squash. Well, here’s the super easy, safe way around that. Instead of attempting to cut a rock-hard raw squash, try this sneaky tip:
1. Bake the squash whole briefly before attempting to cut it. Pop it into a hot oven for about 10 – 15 minutes or so (depends on size of squash), using the same sheet pan that you’ll use for roasting/baking the squash (saving on dirty dishes – ALWAYS!).
2. Next, take squash out of the oven, and let it cool for a few minutes. Once cooled, cut it in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, and then peel off the skin.
3. Finally, cut it into cubes, chunks, whatever your recipe calls for, and then return it to the oven. Fingers intact, money saved, with delicious roasted chunks of squash to enjoy.
This soup is full of comforting, nourishing flavors and textures. It’s warmly spiced without being too spicy, and comes together in just a few steps. And I just couldn’t resist throwing in a few pomegranate seeds as a garnish. The tart sweetness totally complements the savory squash flavors. Cranberries would be a great garnish, too.
And if you’re in a soup kind of mood, also check out my super-easy recipe for Black Bean Soup.