We’ve made this a few times in the past week or so. The gorgeous bright orange color makes me so happy every batch, and the flavor is really unique and satisfying. It would be perfect for something a little different and unexpected at an adults’ Halloween party; you could even serve it in cute shot glasses to play up the bourbon element. It turns out pretty thick and I like that in bowls, but maybe you’d want to thin it out a bit more if chic appetizer glasses are your plan.
The recipe really doesn’t make a particularly big pot; we finished one for a hungry Saturday lunch with two bowls each. You may want to scale it up for a bigger group? Watch the flavor balance though- just a little too much squash and you’ll lose that trademark bourbon-kissed taste. When we didn’t finish it in one sitting, the soup still tasted great on the third day.
We really liked the soup pretty well plain, but also enjoyed the salty garlic croutons and drizzle of molasses as toppings. The leeks were okay- I didn’t quite get them tender enough, so their texture distracted from the smooth soup. If you use leeks or shallots, saute them in oil and salt until they are very tender, golden, and flavorful. I thought pumpkin seeds as a topping would be something special, but to be honest with you they were just so-so.
If bourbon isn’t your thing, I’d imagine sage, garlic, and thyme would also be really nice with the squash, carrot, and apple. I don’t recommend the original Whole Living recipe as written though- we thought there was way too much ginger, and didn’t like the combination of spices at all.
Simple Smoky Bourbon Squash Soup
(Adapted from Whole Living)
1 small butternut squash
1 – 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 small-medium yellow onion, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 tsp. smoked salt, divided (I use Trader Joe’s grinder bottle)
1/4 cup bourbon
1 small-medium tart apple, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces (I used honeycrisp)
7 thick baby carrots (or 2 regular-size carrots), chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
optional toppings: drizzle of molasses, garlic croutons, sauteed very tender leeks or shallots, toasted pumpkin seeds/pecans/walnuts
1. Peel the squash, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes. You should have about 3 cups, maybe a scant 4 cups. Save any extra in the fridge for another use- this flavor balance is pretty delicate! Set the squash aside.
2. Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions and about 1/4 tsp. of smoked salt. Cook, stirring frequently, for 6-8 minutes, or until onion is translucent, tender, and maybe starting to brown a bit.
3. Carefully pour in the bourbon. Stir in the apple, carrots, and squash.
4. Add 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. Cover partially with a tilted lid, turn heat down to low or medium-low, and simmer for 20 minutes until everything is tender.
5. Remove the pot from the heat, take the lid off and allow to cool slightly. Put on an apron. Puree with an immersion blender until smooth and thoroughly mixed. Taste, and add more smoked salt to your liking. (I probably used at least another 1/4 tsp, maybe even another 1/2 tsp.)
6. Serve plain, or with garlic croutons (see below) and a drizzle of molasses.
Makes 2 generous meals, 4 appetizer servings, or several shot glass or little portions.
Easy Garlic Croutons
(Adapted from What’s Gaby Cooking)
1 – 2 pieces of your favorite bread
1 small – medium clove of garlic, minced
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Cut the bread into 1-inch squares.
2. Drizzle the bread lightly with oil, then toss with some salt and the garlic.
3. Spread the bread out on the cookie sheet and bake for about 15 minutes, until browned around the edges and toasted.