This is a recipe for the soup-for-dinner deniers. For the people who consider a bowl of vegetables and broth some sort of punishment, for those of us who would never order the “soup special” at a restaurant unless it’s promptly followed by a plate of pasta.
I am one of those people.
After about the third time I made butternut squash soup, I looked into the silky, bright bowl and had to admit: this was a weeknight dinner delight. The endlessly riff-able meal hits the sweet spot between straightforward and delicious, with an outsized yield compared to the effort you put in. And yes, that means plenty of leftovers.
Have I turned you into a believer yet?
For the soup-deniers who prefer to chew their food, I’ve got something for you too: toppings. A bowl of butternut squash soup can be a blank canvas for swirls of olive oil, splatters of parmesan cheese, dots of black pepper. Smeared onto a hunk of warm bread, soup’s got plenty of bite.
For this recipe I made a topping of browned butter pecans and vinegary dried apricots that I’m calling “relish.” The pecans, toasted until fragrant, glossy, and wrapped in butter, provide crunch and richness. The dried apricots are soaked in vinegar while you prep the rest of the meal, then spooned on top for a sweet and sour chew that you don’t usually find in a bowl of soup.
Try this recipe with hazelnuts instead of pecans, or golden raisins instead of apricots. If dried fruit isn’t your thing, just squeeze a bit of lemon or lime on top. The luscious, creamy soup needs an acidic backbone.
The hardest part of this recipe is peeling and chopping the butternut squash. If you’re not in the mood to slice and dice while jamming out to Stevie Nicks (just me?) then just buy the ready-made butternut squash available at most grocery stores. Costco’s got your back.
The rest is pretty hands-off. The squash gets roasted along with an onion, a drizzle of olive oil, plenty of salt, black pepper and a pinch of red pepper flakes. You’ll have about a half hour to make your toppings, clear the newspapers from the table, and wash the one, maybe two dishes that have accumulated at this point with a satisfied smirk.
I served this with sourdough bread that I made Mom drive all the way to Whole Foods for, but it would be delicious with whatever fresh loaf you can get your hands on. It’s excellent with nothing more than a spoon- I just can’t resist a dunk.
After some time in the oven, the softened, sweetened vegetables get blended with as much hot water or stock as you need to reach a smooth and creamy texture. You’ll taste, you’ll adjust the seasonings, then you’ll sit down to enjoy a dinner you swore you’d never believe in.
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Pecans and Apricot Relish
An easy fall dinner recipe with a handful of ingredients and unbelievable flavor. Not your average squash soup.
- ½ cup dried apricots or golden raisins, chopped into a small pieces
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped into large pieces
- 1 small yellow onion, peeled and chopped into large pieces
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Water or stock, as needed
- ¼ cup butter
- ½ cup pecans
- Flaky sea salt, optional, for serving
Heat the oven to 425. Put the apricots in a small bowl and pour over the vinegar. Soak while you prep the rest of the ingredients. The apricots should plump slightly and get sour-sweet, like relish.
Arrange squash and onion on a large sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil, season with red pepper flakes, plenty of salt, and pepper. Roast 30 minutes. Transfer to a food processor or blender with a bit of hot water or stock and blend until creamy. You might have to do this in batches, the goal is to get rid of any lumps. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. If you're not making the apricot relish, add a tablespoon or two of balsamic or red wine vinegar at this point. The soup needs a punch of something acidic. If the soup isn't delicious yet, tweak the flavor with salt, vinegar or even a touch of honey.
Meanwhile, heat butter in a large saucepan over medium for about 2 minutes, until it is just starting to turn brown. Turn down the heat, add the pecans and toast until pecans are fragrant, about 5-8 minutes more. Pour the pecans and any remaining butter into a bowl and crush into smaller pieces (I use the back of a measuring cup for this).
Serve soup in bowls and top with pecans and apricot relish. Sprinkle on flaky salt and a few extra cranks of black pepper.
I served the soup with a fine Chianti. Chianti's earthy flavors paired well with the squash and the subtle acidity cut the creaminess of the soup.