Creamy Butternut Squash Soup (Fall Inspired)
This butternut squash soup recipe is luxurious, simple, creamy, savory and one significant dish to me that truly defines my cooking career.
I started working in kitchens and restaurants at the age of 14. I did everything from bussing, to waitressing to finally, eventually cooking. I worked at many times 1-2 jobs throughout highschool.
My big breakthrough was waitressing in a cafe called Cafe Quackenbush located in Los, Alamos California. (I know funny name right!!) This was a cafe and art gallery that served upscale soups, salads, coffees, it was mostly a breakfast-lunch place that displayed incredible art and taste. A job I persisted to try and get throughout the years of living in Los Alamos. I actually was the dish washer for a year, until I was trained to waitress.
The chef/owner there a swedish man and accredited chef by the name of Jesper.. I had seen Jesper there from the time I was 5 years old to a teenager, he sometimes would ring me or my family up for foods etc. Jesper and his partner co-owned the space and he lived just above his cafe. It was a really special place, unfortunately no longer there in the cute little town of Los Alamos.
I wasn't a great waitress. They used a cash register in the cafe that I often struggled using. I had the charisma, and charm of being the underdog and a learning waitress that prompted tips and sympathy from my customers. My personality kept me there at the beginning, basically. And there were days I was just asked to wash dishes instead of waitress. I loved going back into the kitchen and seeing what Chef Jesper was making. He to me was so intimidating, such a professional, such a boss. I both admired and feared him to a degree.
At the time I also worked at a upscale deli/ grocery store in Los Olivos, Ca. A town 20 mins from Los Alamos. I was employed to run the deli and coffee bar in the front and there met one of my first mentors Chef Renee. Chef Rene I think I will describe as a Mexican gangster. He drove a white old school Cadillac. Rene made a living cooking as many hours in a day and days in a week as he could get. He supported many members of his family. In his free time he would ride his bmx bike around the city of Lompoc, this was mostly from midnight to 3 pm or whenever he could find time between work.
His personality and charisma were infectious, and he was extremely highly respected in the deli as the head chef. Rene made me cook. He would throw things at me and if he did not like how you made something he would throw it on the ground, wait for you to clean it up or put it in the trash. He inspired everyone to be better. His customer service was the best I've ever seen, and only rivaled his cooking skills. Although he wasn't a classically trained chef or went to culinary school, he to this day is probably one of the greatest cooks and mentors I've ever had and possibly one of the best cooks I've ever worked with.
Rene taught me to cook, so I started making soups in the Deli. There was a soup I love eating at the Quackenbush cafe. I did not get the recipe but I found out what was in it. So I attempted to re-created the soup.
And one night running the deli at the Los Olivos Grocery Store by myself, Chef Jesper came into the deli. He was on his way to an event just picking up some food for the road and asked to try the soup of the day. I said nervously it's butternut squash soup. He tried it and was so taken aback. I told him I made the soup and modeled it after his soup. I expected maybe a mixed response but actually was not sure what he would say.. He looked pleased.
And then things changed for me at the Quackenbush Cafe. Chef Jesper started to let me watch him cook the days I worked at the Cafe and I started making soups and salads there, as a prep cook assistant.
To summarize this story.. This soup is significant to me because it opened a invisible door into learning more about cooking and peaked the interest of Chef Jesper, a figure I both greatly wanted to always impress and secretly deeply desired to learn from. Food is powerful. It can open doors into really special experiences.
Thankyou for reading, because of all my recipes this one truly has great importance to me and with great pleasure I am happy to share it with you all.
Recipe for Soup
5 cups of chopped cubbed/peeled butternut squash (or 1 medium squash)
2 tablespoons of coconut oil or vegan butter
1 tablespoon of vegan butter
2 cups chopped white onion
3 cups chopped celery
2 cups of chopped carrots
2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon of chopped ginger
teaspoon of turmeric powder
1 tsp black pepper
5 cups of vegetable broth
1 tsp of raw honey
1 tsp salt (or salt to taste)
Pre-chop and prep your veggies before you begin cooking.
In a large pot add coconut oil heat on medium high and sautée carrots, onion, celery, and ginger cook for 10 mins with continuous stirring, until you see some browning on the bottom of the pot or you see the onions and celery start to turn translucent.
Add the chopped garlic, butternut squash and and the turmeric, black pepper, and salt. Cook and stir for additional 4 mins.
Proceed to add the 5 cups of vegetable broth to deglaze the pot.
Bring the soup to a boil. As soon as your soup is boiling turn down heat to low and cook with a lid on for additional 30 mins. At this time it is safe to walk away and let the soup cook low and slow.
Test the broth for taste/ and the stick a fork in a piece of squash to make sure everything is fork tender and soft and tastes good.
Turn off heat and blend with a emulsion blender or regular blender. If you are using a regular blender let soup cool before blending.
Blend until smooth. The more blending the better. The soup should be extremely velvety and smooth.
Recipe for Tamari Pumpkin Seed Topping
1 cup raw un-roasted pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon tamari (or soy sauce or coconut aminos)
Pre-prep a sheet pan with parchment paper.
In a sautee pan or cast iron pan toast 1 cup of pumpkin seeds for 4-5 mins or until lightly golden brown around edges. Toast on medium low heat adjusting heat as necessary.
Add 1 tablespoon of liquid tamari. Stir and combine for additional 1-2 min. Then transfer to baking pan. Transfer to oven to let further crisp.
Enjoy on soup or salads.