It's rich and creamy despite being cream-less. Shiitake mushrooms give it smokey flavor and occasional texture. The squash is sweet. And it's warm. I could eat this soup practically every day in the cold months. And today it's 1 degree in Idaho, so let's have at it.
This recipe is adapted from Cindy Pawlcyn of Mustards Grill, a restaurant I highly recommend if you happen to be in the Napa / St. Helena area. It's sophisticated, yet rustic and approachable- much like this soup. The food is inspired by classic dishes and flavors, but ingredient and preparation variations make for a menu that you'll only find at Mustard's.
Most of Chef Pawlcyn's recipes are accessible to the home chef as-is, but I've changed this one up a bit to simplify things even more. Don't worry- the flavor profile remains largely intact. After all, it's The (Best) Squash Soup. Wouldn't want to mess with that...
THE SQUASH SOUP
- a 3lb butternut squash, skin-on, quartered and seeded
- extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 tablespoons Earth Balance (my go-to butter substitute)
- 4 cups shiitake mushrooms, sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated
- 1 heaping cup yellow onion, chopped
- 5 teaspoons curry powder
- 1.5 quarts vegetable stock (I use Imagine's No-Chicken Broth)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Rub your squash with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Place in a glass pyrex baking dish, cut side down, with a big splash of water. Cover with aluminum foil and roast until fork-tender, about 50 minutes. Let the squash cool until you can safely handle it without burning yourself.
Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons Earth Balance over medium heat in a large heavy-bottomed pot. Add the mushrooms and sauté until they have released their liquid and are beginning to get some color. Set aside.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons Earth Balance over medium in your pot, and add the garlic, ginger, and onions. Cook until they have just softened. Add the curry powder and cook while stirring for a minute to bloom the spice and open up its flavor. Scoop the squash flesh out of its skin into the pot, and add the vegetable stock. Adjust the heat, and let simmer for 30 minutes.
Turn off the heat and purée with a hand blender until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the mushrooms, and ladle into bowls. Drizzle olive oil and grind a bit of black pepper to garnish.