We were expecting a snow storm (you know that east coast storm you are probably still hearing about, flights canceled, snow not getting cleared fast enough, football games getting postponed, nation of wussies) and I needed to go to the store. Of course the whole east coast population was there because they were out of milk too. Weird.
After holiday indulgences, I was ready for some healthy soup. Something hot and filling. I must mention here that our downstairs heater decided not to work on this day so cooking was a good way to stay warm. We do have a wood burning fireplace and thank goodness we had some wood. The downstairs was hovering in the 50 degree range for which I am thankful. It was not the same temperature as outside. It was cold and it was snowing which by default makes one colder and it was the day after Christmas and we were getting snowed in and I had already cooked enough. Seriously.
Back to the soup . . .
I picked up some butternut squash, red peppers, parsnips, leeks and chicken broth. That is what looked good so that is what I bought. I think there are many combinations of squash/pumpkin and root vegetables that would work well but roasting them is key to the delicious flavor of this soup. One of the reasons that I chose this recipe is that the veggies need to roast for 45 minutes to an hour. We need the heat, so the longer roasting time the better. Never thought I would cook just to stay warm but here I am.
Looks a little plain and sad with out the pepitas! The color is astounding.
Here is how I made the soup:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Peel and chop 1 butternut squash into 1 1/2 to 2 inch pieces and toss onto a sheet pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Peel 4 or 5 parsnips into large chunks and add them to the squash. I chopped up a couple of red peppers into large pieces and cut a couple of onions into 8 wedges each and added them. Now liberally salt and pepper the veggies and drizzle on a tablespoon or so of good olive oil and toss.
Place the veggies into the lower third of the oven for 45 minutes to an hour. The veggies should be nice and caramelized on the bottom. Stir them and toss them after about 35 minutes so they can be caramelized on their other side! This is the delicious part. Resist nibbling. It is hard. Cook until done. Mine took an hour because they were kinda piled into the pan. Remove from the oven and set aside.
I chopped 2 leeks and then rinsed them really, really well. Saute over medium heat for 10 minutes in a couple of teaspoons of olive oil and a dash of salt in a large soup pot. If you wanted, the leeks could be skipped and start with the spices and garlic. Put 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons of curry powder, 1 teaspoon of ground cumin, and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Stir until you can smell the cumin and curry. Add a clove or two of chopped garlic and saute for 1 minute and then scrape all roasted veggies into the pot and stir.
Add chicken or vegetable stock. Use homemade or store bought. You will need at least a 48 ounce (6 cups) can of broth to start. Let the stock and veggies come to a simmer. Now to puree. I used an older version of a hand blender so it did not have much power and it took a while to pureed the soup. This took about 5+ minutes. This can be done in a blender or food processor in small batches but just remember heat expands so don't close up that blender or put too much in. So blend with caution. Hot soup can burn you! It has been done. Really. I will attest to this. Blender explosions are not pretty.
After blending, my soup was very thick and the simmering bubbles were like little explosions all over my stove. I added an additional 32 ounces (4 cups) of broth and still had a very thick consistency which I like. I am not a big fan of brothy, thin pureed soups. I like a thick, maybe even chunky, comforting soup. Now is the time for taste testing for spices and adding additional curry powder, cumin, cayenne, salt or pepper. I added a touch of salt and fresh ground pepper and was happy with the rest. My preference is for the veggie flavor to come out first and then for the curry and cumin to compliment it. Follow by a slight spicy kick of the cayenne. Yum.
I had some pumpkin seeds or pepitas so I toasted them with a couple of pinches of cumin and dash of salt. These are delicious all by themselves but on the soup . . . WOW.
Here is a quick recap of this soup.
Roasted Butternut, Parsnip and Red Pepper Soup
this recipe makes a lot of soup!
1 medium to large butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1 1/2 to 2 inch pieces
4 medium to large parsnips, peeled and chopped into large chunks
1 or 2 red peppers, chopped into large pieces
2 medium to large onions, peeled and cut into 8 wedges each
2 leeks, chopped and washed well
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons of curry powder
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
1/2 to 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
48 ounces of low salt chicken broth or vegetable broth
32 ounces of additional low salt chicken, vegetable broth or water if needed
1/2 cup of pepita or pumpkin seeds
1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon of butter or olive oil
Place butternut squash, parsnips, red peppers and onions in a roasting pan. Sprinkle liberally with salt, pepper and olive oil. Roast in a preheated oven of 425 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring midway, until done. Remove from the oven.
In a large soup pot on medium heat, saute the leeks in a teaspoon or two of olive oil until they are soft and translucent. (The leeks could be skipped if you want) Add the garlic, curry powder, cumin and cayenne and saute for 1 or 2 minutes until aromatic. Add roasted veggies and stir. Add 6 cups (48 ounces) of chicken or veggie broth and bring to a simmer.
Process in food processor, blender or hand blender until almost smooth. At this point you may want to add more broth if it is very thick. I added 32 ounces more broth. Taste for seasoning and add more curry, cumin, cayenne, salt or pepper if desired.
Toast the pepita seeds by placing them in saute pan over medium heat with the butter and cumin. Stir until toasted, approximately 5 minutes.
Put some soup in a bowl and sprinkles some toasted pepitas over the top and enjoy a bowl of total goodness. Please!
Note: Customize this basic recipe to your favorite winter vegetables. Use any squash such as pumpkin or acorn squash but butternut is a definite favorite of mine. I chose parsnips but carrots, rutabagas, or turnips would make a delicious, nutritious soup. In my book, roasted squash/root veggie soup can't be beat.