I was flipping through the wonderful New England Soup Factory Cookbook, when I came across this vegan recipe for Tomato, Butternut Squash and Herb Soup. According to the headnote, butternut squash puree is ideal for tempering the acidity of tomato soup and giving it dairy-free rich body. Even though my husband has always professed a deep distrust for anything butternut, he is a huge fan of cream of tomato soup.
The final result was more butternut soup with a hint of tomato than the dairy-free creamy tomato soup I was expecting. Even so, this soup was such a huge hit that butternut squash has moved from the banned vegetables list to the “must make frequently” list. I would like to try this soup again with the proportions slanted more towards tomato, just to see whether I could get something that more closely resembles cream of tomato soup.
I didn’t have the fresh basil the recipe called for, so I used a Tbl. of pesto. I cut the recipe in half because the full recipe makes a huge pot of soup.
Tomato, Butternut Squash and Herb Soup
Adapted from the New England Soup Factory Cookbook
1-2 Tbs olive oil
1-2 Whole cloves garlic, minced
2 medium onions, diced
2-3 carrots, sliced
1 rib celery, diced
1 lb. butternut squash, peeled and cute into large chunks (I used a 20 ounce package of pre-cut)
1 can (14.5 oz ) whole tomatoes
2-4 cups vegetable broth (I used 2 cups and felt it was enough)
1/2 cup sherry (the New England Soup Factory Cookbook frequently calls for sherry)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves (I used a spoonful of pesto)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves (left out)
1 Tbs balsamic vinegar (left out because it seemed to be perfect without it)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
In a Dutch oven or large pot, saute’ garlic, onion, carrots, celery, and butternut squash in the oil for 10 minutes. Add the sherry and cook for five minutes to boil off a little of the alcohol (the original recipe didn’t call for this step, it just called for the sherry to be added with the rest of the liquid. Do what you want, but it is easier to boil off the alcohol before water is added to the pot. Once the alcohol is diluted with water, it doesn’t burn off as efficiently.). Add the tomatoes and stock (actually, I filled the empty tomato can with water and dumped that in along with some salt and pepper to taste). Bring the soup to a simmer, cover and cook for a half hour or so (40 minutes should do it) until the squash is tender.
Puree the soup. Add the herbs, salt and pepper (and vinegar, if using). Original recipe called for pureeing the herbs with the soup, but I was using pesto, which was already pureed, so I didn’t bother.
Other soup made from this book: Sweet and Sour Cabbage (well, heavily adapted from the book)
Eggplant Parmesan Soup (I find the idea of this especially irresistible)