Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Maple Cinnamon Chick Peas served with Mixed Greens Citrus Salad

Butternut squash soup gained popularity a few years back.  I am not sure why, but it seemed everyone and their brother had a recipe for butternut squash soup.  It’s rise to fame has even brought it to the grocery store shelves via a popular processed soup company.  You know the one, with the red and white cans. I looked their version up and I always find it interesting when they don’t include the ingredients on the details of their own website.  After a little more digging, I did find the ingredient list and discovered it contained Mono-sodium Glutamate (MSG) in the form of yeast extract, as so many soups do.  No need to worry, a healthier and likely much more flavorful version awaits you. Yes, we are nearing the end of the season of winter squashes but this soup is so good it will make you want to freeze some squash for the off season.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Maple Cinnamon Chick Peas

The key to a really good butternut squash soup is in the preparation of the butternut squash.   You have to roast it with onions preferably. Boiling it just will not give you the same depth of flavor.  I like to slice my squash first and then cube it before roasting.  If you leave the squash skin on while cooking, then you have to wait until it is completely cool before you try to scoop the squash away from it’s skin.  Inevitably you won’t get all the squash or get some of the roasted flesh with it and burn your fingers while trying.  (Yes I know by experience) Pre-peeling and cubing makes it much easier.  You will also notice this soup contains NO CREAM.  Most versions of butternut squash soup contain heavy cream. I will tell you right now, it will not be missed.  The richness of the roasted squash will bring the all the creamy sweetness you will need.

Roasted Butternut squash soup ingredients

1 medium cubed peeled butternut squash

1-2 tablespoon olive oil or coconut oil

sprinkling of sea salt

1 medium yellow onion, diced

1-2 cups of vegetable or chicken stock ( use more or less depending on your desired thickness of the soup) 
Optional spices: cumin, sage, cinnamon, nutmeg

Before starting the squash, prepare the chickpeas.Lightly dry chickpeas with a clean kitchen towel. Place the chickpeas in a bowl and add the oil, cinnamon, maple syrup and salt. Toss to fully combine and lay them out on the prepared baking sheet. Set aside.

The Liquid is sooo good you will want to drink it.

 Now peel, de-seed, and cube your squash and lay it in a glass baking dish with diced onions. Drizzle with olive or coconut oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Cover and bake in the oven at 400 for about 35-40 minutes or until the squash cubes are soft and slightly browned.  Place the chick peas in the oven at the same time and cook for about the same time.   Give the peas a shake every 10 minutes or so.  When both peas and squash are cooked, allow them to cool.  Put peas aside for later.

Roasted Maple and Cinnamon Chick Peas

In batches, place the cooked squash and onions in a blender filling to about halfway.  Add some vegetable stock to allow for an easier pureeing process. Blend until smooth.  Add pureed batches to a medium sauce pot set at low-medium.  Continue until all squash has been pureed.  Add any remaining vegetable stock and stir until well mixed.  Add spices  if you desire and adjust the salt to taste. Simmer for about 20 minutes.  When ready to serve, place soup in a bowl and top with maple, cinnamon chick peas.  This soup is such a delight you can even serve it al fresco in the summertime. 

Pureeing shows off it's Vibrant orange color

Adding Roasted Squash Puree to a pot

I served this with a side salad of mixed greens, sliced red onions, fresh orange slices, pecans and feta cheese with a citrus dressing.   

Citrus Dressing

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup of orange blossom honey balsamic vinegar

¼ teaspoon sea salt

2 Tablespoons of frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed and undiluted

½ teaspoon dried basil

Combine in a small glass jar with a lid.  Shake vigorously. 

Mixed Greens Citrus Salad

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