Butternut Squash Soup
By Charlie Burke
Fall in New England marks the brief
period when our local products are at their peak. We should have a few more
weeks of great tomatoes and corn, but fall squashes are now in our Farmers'
Market along side them. Hot soups now will replace the cold ones my wife and I
prefer in the summer, and this is our favorite; velvety smooth, it's even the
color of fall. With a food processor or a food mill it is easy to make, and it
can be made a day or two ahead, a convenience when entertaining.
We usually use four cups of mild chicken stock and one cup of water, but often
use water, alone, which highlights the fresh squash flavor. (Most vegetable
stocks are too assertive to be compatible with this recipe) Caramelizing the
onions adds their sweetness to that of the squash, and toasting the walnuts
briefly in a dry pan enhances their flavor and provides crunchy texture.
Heat oil and butter in a large pot over medium heat and add onions and shallots.
Cook, stirring frequently for 10 minutes or until onions are golden brown. Add
squash , 5 cups of liquid and salt and pepper, raise heat to high and bring to a
boil. Lower heat to a simmer and cook until squash is tender. While the squash
is cooking, place a dry fry pan over medium heat and toast walnuts, tossing or
stirring until they begin to color.
Puree the squash in a food processor or pass it through a food mill and return
it to the pot with all the liquid. Add the thyme and simmer for a few minutes.
Serve the soup topped with the toasted walnuts and a few fresh thyme leaves.
We think butternut squash is ideal for this soup, but it can be made with any
fall squash. Many farmers are growing new or reintroducing older squashes, so
take advantage or the opportunity to learn from the growers at your local
Farmers' Market or Farm Stand and try different varieties in this and other
An organic farmer and avid cook, writer Charlie Burke is the vice president of
the New Hampshire Farmer's Market Association (www.nhfma.org).
His column & recipes appear weekly in The Heart of New England's newsletter...
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