Red Cooked Butternut Squash Soup

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Pumpkin isn’t the only gourd that can handle a little spice—chef Jason Bond’s Asian-inspired butternut squash soup is bursting with autumnal flavor from familiar bedfellows like maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. But this recipe also takes its cues from Chinese red cooked pork, using a medley of stock-starters, spices and herbs that are stewed in soy sauce, then pureed with the butternut for an umami-packed bowl.

Details

Yields: 4 Quarts

Ingredients

  • 1 large, whole, butternut squash
  • 1 cup good EV olive oil, plus 2 cups for the puree
  • 2 tablespoons maple sugar or syrup
  • 1 tablespoon mixed whole spices ( I use white pepper, clove, mace, cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, star anise, dried chili, nutmeg, fresh ginger)
  • 1 leek,chopped and washed
  • 1 onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 celery branch, washed and chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 fresh chili, not too hot, split and seeded
  • 1 bouquet of fresh herbs ( I change these each time, but generally thyme, marjoram, lovage, cilantro, could be included), tied with twine 1/2 gallon vegetable broth
  • Dark soy sauce to taste
  • salt to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F and wash your hands.
  2. Wash the squash and cut it in half the long way.  Leave the skin on, as it will protect the squash while it roasts.  Either remove the seeds and toast them with salt and olive oil and use as a garnish, or leave them in the squash to roast - they will improve the flavor.
  3. Roast the squash on a baking sheet, cut side down until the skin browns and the flesh is tender.
  4. Meanwhile, add one cup of olive oil to a pot large enough to hold a gallon of soup.  Add the maple sugar and cook to a light caramel. Add the ginger to the caramel and brown it.  Add the spices and toast in the caramel until they are fragrant, about one or two minutes.  Before the spices burn, add the vegetables, soy sauce, and herbs.  Salt well at this point.
  5. Put the lid on the pot and allow to simmer over a very low fire for 30 minutes to an hour.  The longer the better—but don't burn it.
  6. The squash will be ready when you can easily separate and peel off the skin from roasted squash.  If during the roasting, the color is getting too dark before the squash is cooked, just add a cup of water to the baking pan. You can use the squash stock that results to flavor your soup too.
  7. Once the squash is roasted and tender, and the vegetables are super mushy and aromatic, add the squash to the pot.  Then add enough vegetable broth to allow the squash pieces to float freely.  Simmer to combine the flavors.  Taste and adjust the seasonings.
  8. Puree in batches, along with the reserved 2 cups olive oil, in a blender and pass through a fine sieve or chinois.  You could also tie the spices in a spice bag and remove before you blend, but the flavor won't be quite the same. It's better to just let them be free, blend them up and strain to get final, fine textured soup.

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