For the past few days, I’ve had a basket of winter vegetables burning a hole in my kitchen counter, so to speak. I was particularly keen on utilizing two butternut squash that were starting to show their age. I also have an enormous bag of apples from the Somerville Farmers’ Market last weekend. I sometimes have success with plain butternut squash soup, but often I find myself scrambling at the end to add more seasoning because it is lacking something. Apple adds flavor so easily, I have found, it almost feels like cheating.
I used to make butternut squash soup by roasting the squash in the oven and then cooking the squash on the stovetop with broth and seasoning. But I never really enjoyed scooping the piping hot squash or having to wait long enough for it to cool. At a certain point, I decided that peeling and chopping the raw squash was the lesser of two evils. After sauteeing chopped onion in a pot, I added cut up squash and a few minutes later, chopped apple. I let them cook in the pan for a few minutes before adding water, reducing the heat, and allowing the mixture to simmer. I also threw in some ginger, which complements squash beautifully and also counters the sweetness from both the squash and apple. The ginger came from my freezer and was very fibrous. Rather than trying to chop or grate it into small enough pieces, I left it in large chunks that I could easily fish out after the soup was done cooking.
I let the mixture simmer over a very low flame for close to an hour. When the squash and apple were sufficiently soft, I seasoned it with salt and pepper. With the flavor from the apple and ginger, I found it did not need additional seasoning. The only herb I might have added was sage, but alas, I did not have it on hand. I had originally intended to pour this into a blender and puree it (I am in the process of procuring an immersion blender). I tried some of the soup chunky, though, and quite liked it. I decided to save myself the hassle of transferring it to a blender and left it unpureed. Whenever I have butternut squash soup at a restaurant, it is almost always pureed, so this was a nice alternative. If you have never tried it chunky, I highly recommend it.
Chunky Butternut Squash Apple Ginger Soup
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 medium butternut squash or 1 large, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
2 large apples, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cups water
5 1-inch chunks of fresh or frozen ginger, peeled
Heat olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven and add onion. Sautee for ten minutes, until translucent. Add squash, cook for five minutes. Add apple and cook for another five minutes, stirring every so often. Add water, should be enough to just cover the contents, and the chunks of ginger. Once mixture is bubbling, lower heat and cover. After about an hour, check squash and apples for softness. The pieces should be extremely tender and fall apart easily. Season with salt and pepper. If you like, puree with a blender or immersion blender, or do as I did and enjoy your soup chunky.