Friday, October 21, 2011

butternut squash soup with hazelnuts and parsley pesto

these days, i want and need some big cozy socks on my feet at all times. in my life, there are two exceptions to this sock law.

1. when i get in bed. fling those big socks off. i like clean feet in sheets.

2. those toe socks. never those toe socks.

remember those? you probably at some point had a pair. they were most likely turquoise or hot pink.

i definitely had some weirdo toe socks. and after ten years and much, SHUN, i will not wear those again.

they seem like they'll be fine and comfortable..until you put them on and it just feels weird. something feels off when each toe is separately secure. they are like long gloves on your legs. never again.
 i prefer my toes to be warmed mitten-style.

twelve year old long-toe-sock-wearing julia most likely would not be all too excited about this soup.

she would have ignored butternut squash anything and made a quesedilla. and then she would have gone off to her room. blasted spice girls and made jelly belly flavor combos by eating like 8 at a time.

but here and now in my older wiser self, all i want to do is make soup. i still want to eat 40 quesedillas. but making soup is the best.

standing in the kitchen, stirring the pot. it is slow..unlike my day. but this makes it nice.

xxL non-itchy sweaters/very worn-in sweatshirts should be worn during soup making. and big cozy socks to slide around on. no toe definition allowed.

butternut squash...oh you are a pain to cut, but a dream to eat in soup form.

Butternut Squash Soup 
adapted from Big Sur Bakery Cookbook

*this makes a very large pot of soup, enough for 10 people. it makes delicious leftovers, the flavor is even better on the second day, and it freezes perfectly. 

2 large butternut squash, about 5 pounds total
1/4 cup olive oil
3 medium yellow onions, roughly chopped
3 celery stalks, roughly chopped
2 large carrots, roughly chopped
8 garlic cloves
1 serrano chile
2 russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
kosher salt
1 1/2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock
fresh ground black pepper
parsley almond pesto (recipe below)
1/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted

peel the squash with a vegetable peeler. cut them in half with a sharp knife, scoop out the seeds with a spoon, and cut the flesh into 2 inch pieces. set aside. 
heat a large pot over medium-high heat, and drizzle the oil into it. add the onions and saute until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. add the celery, carrots, garlic, and chile, and saute until the vegetables begin to caramelize, 10-12 minutes. 

add the squash and cook for 10 minutes. then add potatoes, season with 2 tablespoons of salt, and cover with stock. let the soup simmer over medium heat for 40 to 45 minutes, until the vegetables are very soft. (while it simmers, make the pesto and roast the hazelnuts). then puree the soup in a blender or food processor until smooth.
return the pureed soup to the pot and check the should be smooth and thick, but not as thick as baby food. if it's too thick, thin it with a little more stock. if it's too thin, let the soup reduce over medium-low heat until it thickens. check the seasoning, add pepper and more salt if necessary. 

pour the soup into bowls, dollop with pesto and sprinkle on hazelnuts. 

Parsley Almond Pesto

1 bunch flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup almonds, toasted
1-2 cloves garlic
squeeze of fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
olive oil

notes: you can make this by hand chopping for a more coarse pesto or in a food processor for a finer blended pesto. i opted to do it by hand and it was lovely. use whatever herbs or nuts you have. throw in some jalapeno to spice it up. parmesan? of course, why didn't i do that?

on a cutting board, chop up the parsley, almonds, and garlic until it is quite fine. transfer it to a bowl and stir in lemon and salt. add a few glugs of olive oil until it is pretty well covered. let sit for a few minutes to let the flavors mingle. taste and adjust salt and lemon. 


  1. This looks ah-mazing. (Although I do have to admit that I still kinda like toe socks. There's something comforting about the weird toe separation that goes on!) -LR

  2. YUM. I love the bowls too!

    Would love mind putting this up in my soup linky? I'm looking for new recipes and TIPS!


  3. I also like the bowls, but I think the soup would look even better in my mouth. And when are we gonna see the green milky bowls getting some action?

  4. Julia I have been patiently waiting for a butternut squash soup recipe from you!!! I think you bud Jamie would love to make this. I am not a hazelnut lover so any other suggestions for the topping - ? toasted slivered almonds do you think that would work???

  5. almonds would be equally delicious!

  6. who doesnt love hazelnuts? what a goon my father is.