Boasting a healthy dose of fiber and vitamins, buttercup squash soup can be perfect for chasing the winter blues away. The sweet, mild taste of this winter squash lends itself to variation as infinite as the chef's imagination. Some great types of buttercup squash soup include traditional style, buttercup squash and apple, vegan, and curried squash soup.
Traditional buttercup squash soup capitalizes on the creamy, hearty flavor of the pale orange squash. First, slice a buttercup squash in half and scoop the seeds out, then roast in the oven until soft. To make a basic soup, saute leeks, celery, carrots, garlic, onion, and thyme in a little oil until the vegetables are soft and brown. Simmer this soup base with a few cups of water or broth until the squash is finished roasting, then add the cooked squash to the soup. Puree the mixture in the blender with a little cream for a thick, hearty soup that can also be used as a pasta sauce.
A delicious soup with bright flavors can be created out of buttercup squash and tart, seasonal apples. Look for good cooking apples, such as Gravenstein or Granny Smith, that pack a nice tart bite for the best flavor. The squash and apple can simply be cooked together in a large soup pot with onion, celery, and broth for about an hour, then pureed. Consider adding a spice mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, and a little chili pepper for extra dimension. For a sweeter, more caramelized flavor, roast the squash and the apples in the oven before adding to the soup.
Nearly any recipe for buttercup squash soup can be made vegan with a few simple substitutions. Instead of chicken broth, use vegetable broth or a combination of water and stock vegetables such as celery, parsnips, and onion. If a recipe calls for the addition of milk or cream, consider using coconut or almond milk, which can add a rich, creamy flavor to the soup. Use plenty of fresh herbs, such as oregano, thyme, or sage, and be sure to substitute a flavorful oil, such as extra virgin olive oil, for butter.
Exotic variations on buttercup squash soup evoke the flavors of India and Thailand. Curried squash soup may warrant a trip to a specialty grocery store to pick up authentic spices, but can also be made with a simple dash of curry powder. For an Indian version, include fresh ginger, clarified butter, yogurt, curry leaves, and finely chopped Indian hot peppers. A Thai variation can be concocted by adding Thai red curry and coconut milk and drizzling the top of the soup with lime juice. Both of these varieties can be served over rice to cut down the heat level, or eaten from a bowl as a soup.