Autumn Squash Soup

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Up until two autumns ago, if you asked me what I would want for my last meal, without hesitation, I would have said ravioli stuffed with butternut squash and cooked with toasted walnuts in a brown butter sage sauce.  Yeah… that exactly.

After that, well… just wrap a big shiny bow around me and send me straight up to Heaven.

But that was before I tasted Panera Bread’s Autumn Squash soup.

Now I don’t know which one I’d pick, the soup or the ravioli.  Door #1 or Door #2; I’d walk away with a deal either way!

Both made with butternut squash, my most favorite-ist veggie on the planet.  One meal savory, the other slightly sweet. Both, pure happiness in my mouth.

Unfortunately, the closest Panera Bread is about 50 miles from my house.  Like almost everything else, if I want it, I have to make time to get it on my monthly grocery run to the big city (which time doesn’t always allow) or I need to learn to make some semblance of a facsimile.  For cost and time’s sake, I choose facsimile nine times out of ten.

Last year when Panera brought the soup back on their seasonal menu, I splurged and bought a couple take-home containers so I could attempt to recreate it at home, tasting theirs simultaneously.  While it isn’t nailed 100%, it’s

PRETTY. DARN. CLOSE.

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Looking at the ingredients on their website, here’s what’s it’s made of:

Detailed Ingredients

Vegetarian autumn squash soup (squash [pumpkin, butternut], water, milk, cream cheese [pasteurized milk & cream, cheese culture, salt, carob bean gum], sweeteners [brown sugar, sugar, honey], seasoning [cornstarch, sea salt, vegetable base {carrots, celery, onion, tomato paste, corn oil, yeast extract, potato flour, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, flavoring}, ginger, spices], onions, cream, butter [cream, salt], carrot, apple juice, lemon juice concentrate, curry powder, spices including turmeric, cornstarch, salt), roasted salted pumpkin seeds (pumpkin seeds, vegetable oil [may contain one or more of the following: peanut, canola, sunflower and soybean], salt).

Mine is a whole lot simpler than that.    And without the cream cheese, probably a bit healthier too.  (Even though there’s still cream in it… But I won’t tell anyone if you won’t!)  Last year, I made two batches of this soup, just so I could freeze individual portions to pull out of the freezer and eat whenever the mood struck.  Which was more often than I expected, because I’ve been without it for 4 or 5 months now. This year, I made more.  Lots more!  And I might just need make it again…

You should make some too.  Before I find all the pumpkins and butternut squash on the face of the earth and use them myself!

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Autumn Squash Soup

Ingredients:

 

  • 2 T unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 6″ stalk fresh rosemary, bundled
  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1 15 oz can pureed pumpkin, or roughly 2 C pumpkin, peeled and cubed
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 4 C vegetable stock
  • 1 1/2 C apple juice
  • 1/4 C honey
  • 1/4 C brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 C heavy cream
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 t white pepper
  • 1/2 t tumeric
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 1 t Sweet or Red curry
  • ½ t ground ginger
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • dash of Tabasco
  • salted pepita seeds for garnish

Directions:

1. Roughly chop everything and sauté with 2-3 T of butter in a large dutch oven for 20 min or until onions are translucent.

2. Add vegetable stock, honey, apple juice, and drop in the bundled rosemary. Simmer until the squash and pumpkin are tender, about 2 hours.

3. Remove rosemary. Blend with an immersion blender, regular blender, or food processor* to desired consistency. Add the cream, salt & pepper, curry, cinnamon and Tabasco. Simmer another 10 minutes, adding more seasonings to taste.

Sit in front of a cozy fire and enjoy!

 

*Food processors can be awfully messy, so I would highly recommend using the stick blender if you have one, or a regular blender if you don’t.

Cooking notes:  

  • If you want to cut down on calories and fat, you can easily substitute half & half for the heavy cream.  I’ve made it both ways and the texture is just a bit more velvety using the cream.
  • Also, this year I didn’t have any apple juice in the house, but did have apple cider.  It added a nice dimension to the soup!
  • I found this blend of spices to be closest to what I could taste in their soup, but if you like more cinnamon or curry, go for it!
  • You could also roast your butternut and/or pumpkin.  Just half the squash, scoop out the seeds, drizzle a little olive oil on top, then roast  at 350°, pulp side up for an hour or so until the flesh is tender.  Then you can easily scoop the flesh out of the rind.  Cube. (Sometimes I do this and freeze the squash to use at a later date.) If you choose not to freeze, cook squash with the remaining ingredients.  This cuts your simmer time to about 1 hour.

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