Butternut Squash Vegetable Puree Soup

Rich, "creamy" without the fat or extra calories of dairy.
This soup is hearty and healthy
This week's Autumn Soup offering is a Puree of Butternut Squash and Vegetables and it cooks super fast in an Instant Pot/Pressure Cooker but can easily be made in a conventional stock pot in about an hour or so.  Rich with vegetables and no dairy, this soup can be either completely vegan or can be made with a base of chicken broth or stock.  Usually I make my soups completely vegan because it's easier and cheaper.  As I had two cups of chicken stock remaining from another dish I was making I used what I had on hand along with water.   It's dairy free but has a creamy mouth feel from the addition of a Russet or Idaho Potato along with the natural creaminess of the butternut squash. 

A mire poix of aromatic vegetables are first sauted until golden brown in olive oil, to build up a base of flavor.  Then prepped butternut squash is added to the pot, along with chunks of peeled potato, thyme, a blend of salt-free seasonings such as Mrs. Dash (or the Aldi brand, which I adore), some dried parsley, and then four cups of water or stock.   A stick or immersion blender also makes short work of pureeing the soup.  I finally splurged on one and boy did it make a difference!

For an added treat, once you peel and remove the squash seeds from the butternut, you can rinse the seeds and then toast them w/a seasoned blend of cumin, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper.  Top your soup with a drizzle of good olive oil and a few sprinkles of the squash seeds.  It's a two-for-one vegetable with a "prize"inside!

There were some beautiful organic butternuts for sale at the Collingswood Farmers' Market last weekend.  One could also use a Blue Hubbard Squash, an Acorn Squash, or some other sweet style squash instead of a butternut.  This soup is all about the golden orange glow of  Fall or Winter Squash and Root Vegetables.  Instructions are given for both the pressure cooker method or conventional stock pot method.
Golden Orange Goodness - Here's a real looker for your soup bowl!
Butternut Squash Vegetable Puree Soup Ingredients:
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Large White Onion - medium dice (about 2 cups)
  • 2 Large Carrots - medium dice (about 2 cups)
  • 2 Large Celery Stalks - medium dice (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 Orange or Yellow Bell Peppers - medium dice (about 2 cups)
  • 2 Pounds (about 1 large) Butternut Squash - peeled, seeded (reserve seeds and toast if desired), cut into medium sized chunks (yields about 3 cups)
  • 1 Large Russet/Idaho Potato - peeled and cut into medium chunks (about 1 3/4 to 2 Cups)
  • 4 Cups Chicken Stock or Broth (low sodium) or 4 Cups Cold Water
  • 2 Tablespoon Dried Thyme
  • 1 Tablespoon Dried Sparsely
  • 1 Tablespoon Salt-Free Herb/Spice Blend such as Mrs. Dash
  • Kosher or Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper - to taste
Directions:
  1. Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a stock pot or in the Instant Pot insert over medium-high heat or set the Instant Pot onto saute heat. Add in the carrots, celery, onions, and pepper and sweat the vegetables until they release their juices and begin to caramelize - about 10 minutes or the stove or 20 in the Instant Pot.
  2. Add in the 2 tablespoons each of the dried thyme and parsley and the tablespoon of the herb/spice blend.  Stir to release the flavor of the herbs, then add in the diced butternut squash and the Russet potato, 4 cups of chicken stock or cold water. Season with a generous pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir to combine.
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to a low simmer.  Cook the soup until the vegetables are fork tender and beginning to fall apart - about 30 to 40 minutes.  If using the Instant Pot, put the lid on the pot, set either manually for 13 minutes or hit the soup button. Let the pressure build, come up and cook for the set time, then let the pressure come down naturally for 10-15 minutes before opening the lid.
  4. Taste and season the soup with a few pinches of kosher salt and several grinds of freshly ground pepper.  Add in more seasoning as desired.
  5. Remove from heat and allow to cool down before pureeing the soup.  If using an immersion blender, puree the soup directly in the stock/insert pot and blend until smooth. If using a blender or food processor, have a large mixing bowl ready and work in batches.  
  6. Ladle the vegetables into the work bowl of the blender or food processor and spoon in some of the cooking liquid to get the vegetables moving in the blender.  Puree until smooth then pour the mixture into the mixing bowl.  Continue pureeing the vegetables until the whole batch is smooth.  If there is any cooking liquid remaining, whisk it into the pureed soup mixture.  
  7. Pour the soup back into the stock pot, heat the soup back to a boil and then taste and adjust the seasonings. Serve hot with a drizzle of good olive oil and if you toasted them, scatter some of the squash seeds on top of the soup.
  8. Soup will keep for up to 4 days in a tightly covered container.  Cool thoroughly before refrigerating.  The soup can also be frozen and will keep for up to 3 months.  Freeze in one or two portion containers or freezer bags. Makes about 5 quarts.

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