One of Lisa Sanders’ favorite things to do is to make soup.
“Soups are so versatile, comforting, and just a feel-good food that are part of every cuisine,” says the executive chef at Fox Run at Orchard Park Lifecare Community. “I love utilizing seasonal flavors and local ingredients; I put a spin on traditional favorites by adding unique spices.”
Sanders, a Johnson & Wales University graduate, holds a Bachelor’s in Culinary Arts and Nutrition. Her training also included participation in Ferrandi’s École Supérieure de Cuisine Française culinary program in Paris.
This sweet and spicy soup is an autumn favorite at Fox Run, and it’s not hard to see why— its creamy texture, robust flavor (derived from pre-roasting the squash), and use of fresh, seasonal produce make it a perfect soup for lunch, light dinner (pair it with a salad and that homemade sourdough bread you’ve been perfecting), or first course of a festive meal.
Sweet & spicy butternut squash soup
Courtesy of Lisa Sanders, executive chef at Fox Run
1 large butternut squash, cut in half lengthwise, seeds removed
2 tablespoons canola oil
½ cup diced Vidalia onion
½ cup peeled and diced apples (any variety, Gala recommended)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
6 cups vegetable or chicken broth, divided
1 tablespoon maple syrup
¼ cup light brown sugar
½ cup heavy cream
1 to 2 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper, to taste
Garnish: toasted pumpkin seeds, fresh chives, sour cream, or bacon bits
Preheat oven to 375°F and lightly spray an oven safe baking dish. Drizzle butternut squash with canola oil, coating all sides lightly, and place the squash on the pan facedown. Roast in the oven until cooked through and tender (about forty minutes). When tender, remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
While the squash is roasting, heat one tablespoon canola oil on medium in a large pot. Add chopped Vidalia onion and sauté until translucent, stirring occasionally. Add diced apples, chopped garlic, nutmeg, cinnamon, cumin, and chili powder; stir consistently. Add four cups of stock and bring to a simmer, cooking until apples have softened; let stand.
Once the squash is cool enough to handle, slowly peel the tough skin away and discard. Add the roasted and caramelized flesh into the soup pot. Slowly bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, adding maple syrup and brown sugar. (You may need to add more stock to thin down if the soup becomes too thick.)
Transfer contents of the soup pot to a blender (you may need to work in batches depending on the size of your blender), carefully blend the soup until it has reached a smooth consistency, then return to the pot (if you have an immersion blender, you can use that instead).
Add the heavy cream and butter, then season with salt and pepper to taste. If the soup is too thick, add more stock. If it is too thin, continue to simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally to reduce to desired consistency.
Ladle into a bowl and serve with garnish of choice.
Tara Erwin lives and writes in Western New York.