Butternut squash soup is ubiquitious. And I’m obsessed with it. I could eat it every day during the fall season. It surfaces some of my most positive sentiments on food and cooking. I thought about its robust creaminess when debating if I should share a new recipe. I’ve been making this soft soup for years and always looking for ways to make it better, sexier, and more enjoyable. At its core, the basis of this fall soup is pretty genius. It’s super easy and flavorful. It warms the heart and satisfies the appetite. And it’s healthy.
This year I wanted to do something different to my soup offering. I typically make a carrot ginger soup for Thanksgiving, but was laser focused on my mac-n-cheese which ended up not surviving, much to my amusement. Reworking this soup was my side project while everything else was cooking up, so I wasn’t going to be ready to present it to 20 hungry and picky eaters. And so early yesterday morning, I worked, tweaked, and mastered this new version. As I blended flavors and honed in on the new “IT” factor, I realized the trick would be to up the spice factor. That idea was mostly inspired by wanting to balance the bold sweetness normally found in squash soups. I had one recently at Panera Bread which I had to doctor up at home. It was like eating candied pumpkin. Tinkering with that one motivated the ingredients which finally turned out to be a delicious bowl of sweet and spicy.
Where I would default to habanero, Thai, or jalapeño peppers when adding heat to a dish, I went for my stash of Tabasco hot sauces. It’d be easier, faster, and different, quite frankly. I’ve been dousing my food with the garlic flavor sauce and immediately went to that one. I liked the flavor it added, but considered perhaps the habanero variety would make it sing the way I heard in my head. That particular sauce has a bit of a sweet spot which could cure that intense heat it shares; of all the sauces, 9 of them, the habanero one is the hottest.
And so it worked. And I was happy. I didn’t have to play around with mincing peppers and subjecting my eyes to peppery seeds and tears. Pouring half a bottle into my soup was the perfect answer to creating a lovely blend of heat and sweet. Spicy soups aren’t very common in my diet but as much as I enjoy hot sauce in my yellow rice (a religious food action I’ve done my entire life), I was open to the idea of diversifying the way I use hot sauce. It’s so versatile and when in a pinch, so easy to incorporate into food needing some caliente points.
Between the cream, sage, tarragon, Brandy, and Chipotle hot sauce, my warm bowl of a bright yellow soup resulted in a bowl of utter joy and bliss. I didn’t end up sharing, either. I was so selfish that I promised to make another batch sometime before Christmas. For now, my fam will just have to enjoy looking at these pics and wondering in their racy minds how it turned out. Oh yeah, because I was a star the dinner table a few years ago when I made that carrot ginger soup. That recipe’s still so good, it doesn’t need a rake… yet.
Enjoy this robust and vibrant soup. If you love butternut squash soups, you’ll appreciate the heightened heat in this version! It’s a beautiful combination of the flavors and senses we look for in great, memorable food!
I hope you and yours had a lovely and delicious Thanksgiving!
CHIPOTLE BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP
- 8 cups cubed, butternut squash, fresh
- 8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1.5 cup whipping cream
- 3 Tbsp. Tabasco Chipotle Hot Sauce
- 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter (1/4 stick)
- 1 celery stalk, diced
- 1.5 medium white onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp. fresh sage, minced
- 1 tsp. fresh tarragon, mined and 12 tarragon leaves for garnish
- Sea salt to taste
- nutmeg for dusting
In medium sauce pan, bring to boil and cook butternut squash in salted water until tender. Drain and set aside.
In medium skillet, saute onions, garlic, garlic, sage, and minced tarragon until onions are translucent.
In large stock pot, add butternut squash, broth, onion and garlic mixture. Stir to combine and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium low, stirring with wooden spoon and breaking up any chunks of squash. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, covered. Remove from heat and stir in cream and Chipotle Hot Sauce. In food processor purée the soup in batches until it's fully smooth. If too thick, add a cap full of water. Add salt as needed for taste. Purée again.
Serve and garnish each bowl with tarragon leaves. Dust each bowl with fresh ground nutmeg.