Maybe this makes me weird, but one of the things I love most about late fall is the arrival of the pumpkins and squashes. Their deep orange and gold tones echo the leaves on the ground and are a welcome splash of color on the dinner table, especially now when sunset seems earlier and earlier.
I love them roasted and tossed with cranberries, or grilled on salads, and of course I love them pureed into beautifully smooth soup. Butternut squash bisque is a classic for a reason – it’s delicious – but I wanted to try something a little different by adding some elements that would complement the richness of the squash and add a little depth. The flavors are influenced by Indian food, but the amount of each spice called for us relatively small, so the effect is a subtle undercurrent of warm, perfumed spice. That richness is brought into balance by the tang of the cool pumpkin and cinnamon greek yogurt.
Extra bonus: this is a two-in-one recipe, because if you’re not curry-inclined it’s easy to skip the last four spices (garam masala, ginger, curry, turmeric) and just use a plain greek yogurt for the crème fraîche step. A slice of multi-grain bread with toasted Gruyere and you’re in business with a light meal that’s still satisfying.
Curried Winter Squash Soup with Greek Yogurt Crème Fraiche (serves 6-8)
6 cups (1 medium) diced butternut squash
2 cups (1/2 medium) diced acorn squash
1/2 cup (2 medium) minced shallots
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 1/4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
6 cups chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
5.3 ounces (1 container) Chobani Pumpkin Spice Yogurt
1 teaspoon 2% milk
1/4 cup squash seeds
ground black pepper
Peel the butternut and acorn squashes, cut in half length-wise, and scoop out the pulp and seeds from the core with a spoon. Reserve the seeds in a small bowl and discard the pulp. Cut the two squashes into approximately 1/2 inch cubes. Next, mince the shallots.
Meanwhile, in a medium French oven or large pot melt the butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-low heat. Sauté the shallots in the melted butter until softened, then add the squash pieces and stir to coat with the butter and shallot mixture. Season with 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper and 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt.
Add the chicken broth to the pot and raise the heat to bring the soup to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes or until the squash pieces are easily pierced with a fork.
Meanwhile, spread the reserved squash seeds on a baking sheet and toss with 1 teaspoon olive oil, 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper. Toast in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes until crisp and lightly browned. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
Next, use a blender or food processor to puree the softened squash and broth in batches until the texture is smooth (about 1-1 1/2 minutes per batch), reserving the pureed soup in a large bowl. Return the pureed soup to the pot and stir in the garam masala, curry powder, ground ginger, and turmeric. Bring the soup back up to a low simmer.
Stir together the Chobani Pumpkin Spice Yogurt and 2% milk in a small bowl (or right in the yogurt container) until evenly combined.
Finally, serve the winter squash bisque hot with a teaspoon or two of the pumpkin greek yogurt crème fraîche (a plastic squeeze bottle will help get that perfect swirl) in each bowl and a sprinkle of toasted squash seeds and a finishing pinch of garam masala. Accompany with a toasted piece of whole grain bread.
Small Kitchen Friendly?
Yes, indeed! The Le Creuset French oven (5.5 quart) rides again, along with a large cutting board, a chef’s knife, Y-shaped vegetable peeler, wooden spatula, measuring spoons and cups. I also used a blender, a medium bowl (for reserving pureed batches of the soup), a sheet pan, and plastic squeeze bottle to get that perfect swirl of greek yogurt crème fraîche.
Mike and my sister Katherine humored me by doing “blind” taste tests of the various combinations of classic/curried squash soup with both plain and pumpkin spice yogurt to see which we liked best. I didn’t realize they were fans of curry, but they surprised me when by giving the spicier version high marks. In the end, all the combinations were successful, so you really can’t go wrong here. And, since this is such a simple soup it would be a perfect make-ahead first course for an elegant Thanksgiving supper.