Roasted Butternut Squash Soup With Fried Shallots & Poblano Pepper & Warm Arugula Salad


Oh the joy. So I had a hankering for a warm comforting soup. Long ago I had put my favorite butternut squash soup dream to rest. I’ll explain.

In grad school my boyfriend at the time put me on to the wonder that was Whole Foods’ hot food bar (this is pre-Amazon). I fell in love. I had never known or paid attention to all the glorious food there ready to be eaten. It was not something I did, eat food from a grocery store, I just shopped.

Needles to say it became our go to spot, picnics, lunch, etc., and I would always get the same thing for the most part: butternut squash soup and a veggie sushi roll. It was and still might be my meal of choice.

I loved this soup so much that if I didn’t get to Whole Foods I would buy Pacific’s Butternut Squash soup as a very capable substitute. No soup has ever made quite the first impression on me that that butternut squash soup from Whole Foods did.

Grad school ends, we move across the country, don’t go to our spot as much, and the butternut squash soup starts to slip away from me a bit.

Cut to years later, relationship long over, no longer in the same city, and the butternut squash soup comes back to me.

The first thing I do is pick up some Pacific because at that time it was not easy for me to get to Whole Foods. I get it, I eat it, but it’s not hitting the same. Did they change something?

I chalk it up and move on.

Years later the soup comes back to me again, it’s still Pacific because it’s still hard for me to get to Whole Foods and not every Whole Foods has this soup. I check the ingredients: Water, soy base, canola oil, natural flavor. BTW Pacific is supposed to be organic. I can’t eat this. Was it always like this? Did it always have these ingredients, did they change something, or do I just know better now?

I wasn’t sure, and it could’ve been either. (Pacific is probably one of the best/healthiest soup brands on the market, other than Amy’s, and they still have these ingredients in 2023).

So I go searching for butternut squash soup recipes. And yes some of them are very good, some of them have curry, some have carrots, some add all different kinds of things. But none of them were the simple straightforward luscious butternut squash soup that I was looking for.

I finally get to a Whole Foods and there’s a hot bar, I am overjoyed. (But now Amazon owns it.) 1. There’s no butternut squash soup, that’s ok, I understand that. 2. But when did the ingredients at the hot bar at Whole Foods get so unwhole?

Did they always put this stuff in their food? The reason I was so comfortable eating at Whole Foods even in grad school was because it was better and there was stuff they just didn’t allow in their food. But now the ingredients were looking like conventional ingredients (read: toxic). And again, nor was I sure whether it was me just knowing more/better now, or if they’ve changed.

So now I’m all out of butternut squash soup options and hence I put the soup dream to rest.

Cut to this week, it gets really chilly and I get that hankering again. So I was like you know what I’m just going to roast some stuff throw it in the blender and pray it comes out delicious. Then I got the idea to go to one of my favorite recipe sites and get some inspiration. I went here because 1) It seemed the simplest of the butternut squash recipes I’ve seen, closest to what I want and 2) I had just seen 2 of her butternut squash soups and 3) I adore her soups.

So I adapted the recipe a bit, and my friends can I tell you? OMG, it was pure unadulterated joy. It had the taste, it had the consistency (which none of the substitutes had ever), and it made me so happy because it took me straight back to my first Whole Foods’ hot bar experience, eating my soup and my sushi roll.

It was EXACTLY as I remembered it. It surprised me it was so similar.

And now my butternut squash soup dreams are a reality.

This is what I did:

Butternut squash is hard for me to cut (knives aren’t so good) so I got 2 packages of the already cubed fresh butternut squash. I threw that on a baking tray with one chopped apple, and one chopped onion. I didn’t have garlic (trying to eat seasonally-no garlic is a super doozy for me), so I seasoned with garlic powder, coconut aminos, chili flakes, sea salt, black pepper, and olive oil. I tossed all this on the baking sheet and put it in the oven to roast at 400 degrees.

Once everything was nicely browned I took it out of the oven and let it cool a bit. I poured some of my vegetable broth in the blender and then added the roasted squash mixture. I blended on medium and high to get to the texture I like, adding broth until I got there. Once complete, I tasted and made sure everything was straight and then added it to a pot to warm it.

Earlier I fried some shallots and poblano pepper. Originally this was only going on the warm arugula salad but then I realized how delicious it would be on the soup.

Once the soup was warm, I plated it, squeezed a bit of lime juice over the soup (you can do this to individual bowls or the whole pot if you like) and added a few slices of fried shallot and poblano pepper. Absolutely delicious.

*I do think the lime juice takes it up a notch, but my absolute joy was when I tasted it out of the blender. It was absolutely perfect for me then, it didn’t need anything else. It was thick, warm, comforting, savory with a hint of sweetness, and simple, just delicious. Probably one of my favorite soups.

*Also this makes a very small amount, so if you’re attempting to make this you might want to double it if making it for more than one night (with possible leftovers) or one person. 2 packages of butternut squash for me = 26oz.

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© Luciana Miles 2024