Roasted Butternut Squash and Chestnut Soup
This elegant soup makes a great starter for a holiday meal or special dinner party. The texture is ultra-smooth and silky and the chestnuts add a rich, mellow sweetness that accents the buttery roasted squash and crisp cider flavors perfectly. A tiny drizzle of white truffle oil makes a deliciously decadent finishing touch.
- 1 medium butternut squash (about 2-1/2 lbs)
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 shallots, very finely chopped
- 12 chestnuts, roasted, peeled and finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1-1/4 cups fresh apple cider
- 2-1/4 cups chicken broth
- 1/4 cup heavy cream (or more to taste)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- White truffle oil for drizzling (optional - see notes)
- Fresh thyme leaves for garnish
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Scrub the butternut squash and cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and brush the cut surface with vegetable oil. Place, cut side down on a shallow baking pan that's been sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the squash appears wrinkled and is very tender when pierced with a knife. Allow to cool slightly.
While the squash cools, melt the butter in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and sauté just until softened, 1 minute. Add the chestnuts, salt and pepper and continue cooking, stirring frequently, 2 minutes longer. Do not brown the mixture. Stir in the apple cider and bring to a simmer.
Scoop the butternut squash from its skin and add it to the simmering cider. Using a spatula or large spoon, mash the squash as best you can, then add chicken broth. Bring the soup back to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes longer.
Using a hand-held blender, purée the soup directly in the pan, or, blend in several batches in a conventional blender and return to the pan. Stir in the cream and nutmeg and heat through, 1 minute.
To serve, ladle the soup into serving bowls, drizzle with truffle oil if desired and garnish with a sprinkling of thyme leaves.
Makes 6 servings
A good quality walnut oil could be substituted for the truffle oil if desired. The flavor will be different, but it will still pair nicely with the soup. Of course you can omit the oil altogether if you prefer.
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