Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

”This butternut soup has a lot of ingredients but is very easy to make,” says Nicholas Harary, co-owner and executive chef of Restaurant Nicholas in Red Bank. “This is perfect for Thanksgiving, and you will have identical results to the restaurant if you follow the recipe.”

Photo by Steve Legato.

“We developed this recipe eight years ago,” Harary says. “I thought it would only be for one season. My thoughts were, ‘Who comes to Restaurant Nicholas for Squash Soup?’ The answer is that it is requested all year now. We never expected that response, so we bring it back every autumn.”

Serves: 6

Special equipment: coffee filter, butcher’s twine, blender, chinois

Ingredients:

1 butternut squash (about 4 pounds)
1/3 cup celery root, peeled and diced
½ cup onion, diced
1 shallot, chopped
¼ cup carrot, diced
1½ quarts Chicken Stock
1 quart water
1 cup cranberry juice
½ cup Simple Syrup
5 tablespoons butter, divided
½ cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 whole nutmeg, cracked
3 cloves
1 stick cinnamon (approximately a 3-inch piece)

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut butternut squash in half lengthwise and remove seeds. Rub the exposed flesh of the squash with grapeseed oil and place a tablespoon of butter in each cavity. Season with salt and pepper. With the cut side up, bake for approximately an hour and a half or until the squash is golden brown and cooked through. Let the squash cool for 30 minutes, then scoop out the flesh with a spoon.

While the squash is baking, make a sachet by wrapping nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon in coffee filter and tying the top of the pouch with butcher’s twine.

In a heavy bottom saucepot, melt remaining butter over a medium-low flame. When the butter starts to foam, add the celery root, carrot, onion and shallot. Lightly season the vegetables with salt and pepper. Continue to cook until the vegetables become translucent, about 10 minutes. Deglaze with simple syrup and cranberry juice, scraping the bottom of the pot to loosen any brown bits. Add sachet and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add the squash, chicken stock and water, and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 1 hour.

Discard the sachet. In a blender puree the soup in batches and pass through a chinois. Be careful when working with hot liquid; do not fill the blender more than ¼ the way up. Add the maple syrup and stir. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary.

Ingredients For Garnish:

½ cup butternut squash, finely diced
½ cup bacon lardons (¼” strips), cooked
½ cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped
½ teaspoon butter
Cinnamon to taste
Lemon oil to taste

Preparation:

In a small saucepot, melt butter on medium high heat. When the butter begins to foam, add the butternut squash and cook for 1 minute, stirring often. Add the bacon and cranberries. Season with salt and pepper.

To serve, place a small spoonful of garnish in each bowl. Lightly drizzle lemon oil around garnish (approximately ¼ of a teaspoon), and sprinkle with cinnamon. Ladle one cup of soup directly over garnish and serve.

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