Spiced Butternut Squash Soup

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 3 lbs of peeled and cubed butternut squash (approximately 2 butternut squash)
  • 2 medium red bell peppers, seeded and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 3 large carrots cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 small sweet onions cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 4-6 whole garlic cloves
  • olive oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp of ancho or chipotle chili powder
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 - 3 tbsp of Harissa
  • 2 tbsp fresh ginger grated on a microplane
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • zest of one orange
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Optional Garnishes:
  • cooked bacon
  • creme fraiche or sour cream
  • chopped mint and chives
  • roasted pumpkin seeds or spicy pumpkin seeds

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 425.

Line 2 baking sheets with heavy duty foil or parchment paper. Mix 2 tbsp of the maple syrup with 2 tbsp of the olive oil in a large bowl. Put the squash in and toss to coat it all evenly, then put it in a single layer on one of the baking sheets. Sprinkle the squash with plenty of salt and pepper and a little of the chili powder (the more you use, the more heat you will get). Add 2 more tbsp of olive oil to the bowl (no maple syrup this time) and toss the bell peppers, carrots, and onions until they are coated in oil. Arrange the veggies in a single layer on the second baking sheet and season generously with salt and pepper. Put the garlic cloves in a small piece of foil and drizzle them with a little olive oil and close the foil up. Put the foil on the baking sheet with the veggies. Roast all of the veggies for 30 - 45 minutes or until the squash is very tender and there is some caramelization on the onions and peppers. The garlic should be very soft as well.

Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil (or bacon fat if you have it from cooking the bacon you are using to garnish!) in a large dutch oven over low to medium heat. Add the harissa to taste
(1 tbsp is mild to medium, 2 is medium to spicy, 3 is spicy!), the grated ginger, and the coriander, the remaining 2 tbsp of maple syrup,  and cook for 3 minutes. Add all of the roasted veggies and garlic and 6 cups of the chicken stock (reserve 2 cups of stock to thin the soup out if needed). Bring to a simmer and cover the pot and cook for about 20 minutes. Taste your stock to see if it is well seasoned... you will probably need to add more salt at this point. You will get some salt from the seasoned roasted veggies, and some from the stock, so taste as you go to see how much more you need. I added about 2 more teaspoons of salt.

The next step is to puree the soup. You can do this with an immersion blender or let it cool a bit and do it in batches in a blender. I think the blender gives you a smoother texture. You will need to do it in 2 - 3 batches depending on the size of your blender. Make sure your soup is not piping hot when you blend it. Add more stock at this point if it is too thick. I ended up using all 8 cups.

Return the blended soup to the pot and add the the orange zest and heavy cream. Check again for seasoning...more salt and pepper may be needed. Heat over low heat until it is hot. Garnish with the cooked bacon, chopped mint and chives, and pumpkin seeds.