By Wolfgang Puck
Time and time again, I hear home cooks saying something along the lines of, “I forgot all about my Thanksgiving dinner first course!” Fortunately, I have a perfect solution in the form of what may be my all-time favorite soups. One that guests in my restaurants ask for again and again: butternut squash soup. And once you’ve looked over the following recipe, you probably will be surprised to see that it’s incredibly easy to make.
This version is easy thanks to an automatic electric pressure cooker, an appliance more and more home cooks keep on hand. Unlike the stovetop pressure cookers of old – the ones that sometimes had our mothers and grandmothers trembling at the rumbling and hissing sounds – these inexpensive modern devices are virtually foolproof, safely sealing and even boasting built-in timers that turn off the pressure cooker as soon as the set number of minutes has passed. (You can also use a soup pot, but you’ll have to simmer the soup two or three times longer, not to mention take up valuable stovetop space while preparing your holiday meal.)
Adapted from my book “Wolfgang Puck Makes It Healthy” ($30, Grand Central Life & Style), the recipe is low in fat, even though every spoonful looks and tastes incredibly rich, velvety and creamy without a trace of cream. One serving adds up to only about 219 calories, with just 56 of those calories (a genuinely light 25 percent) coming from fat. Now that’s an excellent beginning to a meal that most people associate with leaving the table feeling sluggish.
Adding to the festive golden color of the soup is a garnish perfect for Thanksgiving: a quickly made, tangy-sweet, brilliant red garnish of cranberries tossed with toasted walnuts. If you don’t feel you can juggle preparing that garnish, substitute a dollop of good canned or bottled whole-cranberry relish, or even a few snipped fresh chives or some parsley or chervil leaves.
Of course, I’m also aware of the possibility that your menu is already planned and fully shopped for. But that isn’t a problem either. Consider this wonderful soup for another holiday meal or make it any time during the winter. Store any extra servings in the refrigerator for up to three days, or freeze it in individual-portion containers for easy meals in 2016.
Butternut Squash Soup
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 small white onion, about 4 ounces (125 g), peeled, trimmed and finely diced
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 large butternut squash, about 3 3/4 pounds (1.7 kg), halved, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch (2.5-cm) cubes
- 1 large acorn squash, about 1 3/4 pounds (.8 kg), halved, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch (2.5-cm) cubes
- 6 cups (1.5 l) good-quality low-sodium canned chicken broth or vegetable broth
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra as needed
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper, plus extra as needed
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch (6-mm) dice
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1/2 tablespoon dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans, toasted
Heat a pressure cooker with the lid off. Add the oil and the onion and saute, stirring frequently, just until the onion begins to turn golden, 3 to 5 minutes.
Add the cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg, stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Add the honey and cubed squash; stir until the squash begins to soften, about 5 minutes.
Add the broth, rosemary, salt and white pepper. Secure the lid on the pressure cooker and bring to pressure, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Cook under pressure for 8 minutes.
Release the pressure. When fully released, remove the lid, then remove and discard the rosemary.
In a food processor or blender, working in batches to avoid overfilling, and following the manufacturer’s instructions for working carefully with hot liquids to avoid spattering, puree the soup; or puree the soup in the pressure cooker using an immersion blender.
Taste and adjust the seasoning, as needed, with more salt and pepper. Keep the soup warm.
In a medium nonstick skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the apple, cranberries, lemon juice and brown sugar.
Cook, stirring occasionally, until the apple is tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the walnuts.
To serve, ladle the soup into individual heated bowls. Spoon some of the apple-cranberry mixture onto the center of each serving.
(c) 2015 WOLFGANG PUCK WORLDWIDE, INC. DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.