One of the bounties of the fall harvest in Minnesota, is that we have a plethora of squash, gourds, and pumpkins. If you try to be mindful about the fruit and vegetables you consume, the first two rules to embrace are eating what is fresh locally and seasonally. You can choose produce any time of the year these days due to global sourcing, but in most situations, that leads to produce that is treated with additional chemicals for transportation, or runs higher in price.I personally enjoy finding out about the seasonally available ingredients, learning about their flavor profiles, and recipes that can best incorporate them into or diets.
Buttercup squash was one of those items for me. I knew what Butternut squash was, but was unfamiliar with Buttercup. It looked physically, very similar to an Acorn squash, but it was rounder, like a small pumpkin. It has a hard inedible green skin, and orange flesh slightly darker than a pumpkin. It’s aroma is sweet and earthy like a pumpkin, and it has a dry, sweet, and nutty flavor to it.
If you’ve been reading my blog for long, you know in my day job, doing PR & Marketing for restaurants, I have access to and am friends with many professional chefs. I have enlisted, cajoled, challenged, and sometimes badgered them into cooking with lower sodium, not only for me, but for many of their guests that have low sodium requirements. Some of the previous recipes are here and here.
This recipe comes courtesy of Chef Royal Dahlstrom. Royal has helmed the kitchens of some of the best restaurants in Minnesota for the past 20 years, and also ran Chef Royal Catering. He’s not only a great chef, but a great friend. Royal loves working with quality ingredients from local farms and dressing them up in the elegance of many European Cuisines. He introduced me to Buttercup Squash. He has recipes for ravioli and risotto, but this soup was the first time I tried Buttercup Squash many years back, so it holds some nostalgia for me.
The sweetness of Butternut Squash cries out for some heat. So I have done variations of this soup with Maple Syrup & Chipotle, Chili & Molasses, and the Scotch Bonnet that is in this recipe. The Smoked Almond Butter finish provides a nice creamy finish to the soup and adds another layer to the flavors of Fall that I crave in this soup.
You can make this soup in advance and freeze. You can throw it in the crock pot to thaw and fill the house with wonderful smells as it heats up. Enjoy!
- 1 in buttercup squash cut half and seeded
- 1 ounce canola oil
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 1 medium carrot chopped
- 1/2 vanilla bean
- 2 fresh bay leafs
- 1/4 Scotch Bonnet chili more or less based on desired heat
- 4 cups low sodium chicken stock
- 1/4 pound unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup unsalted almonds
- 1/2 tsp sodium free liquid smoke
- fresh cracked black pepper
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- cider vinegar
- molasses to taste
Preheat oven to 350°.
Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds.
Place in a baking pan cut side down and add water in the pan up to the rim of the squash.
Cook until tender, about 1 hour.
Remove from oven and cool.
When squash is cool, scoop out flesh and reserve.
Place 1 ounce of canola oil in a sauce pan add the onion, carrot, Scotch Bonnet chili, bay leaf and vanilla bean and sauté until tender.
Add squash flesh to the sauce pan and sauté for 2 minutes.
Add the chicken stock and simmer until every thing is tender, about 30 minutes.
Remove from the heat and puree in blender (use caution when blending hot ingredients).
Pass through a fine mesh strainer to remove any remaining fiber.
Place the soup back into a sauce pan, and finish with a splash of cider vinegar, pepper, and molasses to taste.
Keep hot for service.
For the Smoked Almond Butter: in a food processor, puree the butter (at room temperature), almonds, garlic, paprika, and liquid smoke.
To Serve:Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with a spoonful of the almond butter.