Eat Local // Sweet Butternut Squash Soup

>> Monday, October 20, 2014

Would you believe that when I started this blog back in 2009, I had absolutely no idea what it meant to cook seasonally? I’d go to the grocery store, pick up whatever looked good that week, and make whatever recipes interested me at the moment. Instant gratification at its finest. I can’t really blame myself, though. That’s how the store system is set up -- we can have it all if we want, whenever we want.

After I had immersed myself in the food world for a couple years and honed my own cooking skills, I had a sort of awakening. Or maybe it was a pretty fundamental mind shift certainly also sparked by books like Plenty (100 Mile Diet), Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and more. I started to understand where my food actually comes from and why it’s not exactly natural, for example, to slice fresh tomatoes onto my plate in the dead of a Northeast winter. I also discovered the world of CSA shares, local farmers, and buying more eats -- like eggs, honey, milk, etc. -- from nearby sources. 

I can’t say I eat locally 100 percent of the time. After all, we shamelessly stash bananas and avocados in our cart at Aldi on a weekly basis. We favor our local cafes and restaurants, but still go through the Panera drive through in a pinch. And -- yes -- I heartily eat up those supermarket tomatoes for a subpar taste of summer even on the coldest January afternoon. In my opinion, it’s all about balance and trying and budget and trying some more.

This soup was actually inspired by one of those Panera quickie experiences. They have an autumn squash soup on the menu that’s sickeningly sweet -- I knew I could do better at home using local ingredients. The butternut squash, onions, and garlic came from our farm share this week and the biggest, juiciest Honey Crisp apples came from a local orchard. There’s a satisfaction knowing these foods were grown on our native soil. There’s a soulfulness in knowing and caring for the people who work so hard to nourish us throughout the seasons. 

And eating locally just tastes better -- there’s no denying that.

Makes around 4 quarts -- that’s 16 cups!

What you’ll need . . . 
  • 3 medium butternut squashes
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 1 bulb (or 4 huge cloves) of garlic, chopped
  • 2-3 large apples, chopped 
  • Water*
  • Cinnamon, to taste
  • Sea salt + black pepper
*Alternatively, you can use vegetable broth. We’re just out and trying to spend $0 on food this week, which I’ll write more about in another post.

Method . . . 
  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Place an safe bowl with a few inches of water in it on the bottom of the oven. 
  2. Wash your butternut squash, then chop off the top, cut in half, and scoop out the seeds. Rub down with olive oil and sprinkle a little salt and pepper before placing halves face-down on a cookie sheet to bake for around an hour, checking periodically for done-ness. (Just needs to be soft enough to scoop out of shells).
  3. Once your have your squash meat set aside, heat some olive oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add in your onions and garlic and cook until translucent before tossing in apple chunks. Cook until softened.
  4. Since you’re making a large amount of soup, you’ll need to puree in batches. Add around half the squash meat, half the apple mixture, and a few cups of water to a blender and blend until smooth. Repeat with what’s leftover. You can add however much (or little) water as you like. In fact, I leave it up to you since you might also want to reserve some of this puree for baby -- and a bit thicker is nicer for baby food consistency.
  5. Return everything to the stove to season with the salt, pepper, and cinnamon powder. I did around a tablespoon of salt, a teaspoon of black pepper, and a teaspoon of cinnamon. 
  6. You may also wish to stir in additional water at this point to achieve your desired consistency. Just add about a half cup at a time and stir well to incorporate.
  7. Serve with crusty bread on the side. Freeze leftovers using this simple method.


  • Use you can whatever apples you have on hand -- but I’d say the juicer and sweeter the better because you really do taste them in this recipe.
  • As noted above, you can use this soup as baby food as is or even after just pureeing with less water for a thicker consistency. To freeze, portion into 1-ounce cubes and once frozen place in a freezer bag for storage. Let thaw and/or warm before serving.
  • You can also use other winter squashes like delicata and acorn in this recipe -- the size will impact the yield and ratio of squash to apples. So, maybe three to four large delicata and 4 acorn squashes.
  • If you don’t like cinnamon or want to change the flavor, I recommend using curry powder much like we do in our Delicata Mac and Cheese recipe. Curry powder marries well with squash. Smoked paprika, too. Yum!

And head to Writing Chapter Three for a peek into the kitchen in progress. Last weekend, I painted the cabinets white and -- this weekend -- I hand-painted the tile backsplash this weekend. Some notes on how I did it, what I used, and if I like it (or not). Things are certainly coming along! Can’t wait to share the finished kitchen with you guys!

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