Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Delicata Squash Soup (Panera Bread Style Autumn Squash Soup)

Yesterday my husband and I went to Panera bread for lunch. We usually order our "regular stuff" (Tomato soup or Garden Veggie soup and Mediterranean veggie sandwich) here because they have limited options for vegetarians.

Yesterday, I saw the Autumn Squash Soup on their menu under the vegetarian section. I have to confess, I am not a big squash soup fan. I have tried squash soup many times before, but it has always tasted pretty bland to me with over powering squash flavor.
Since Panera Bread is one my favorite places for soups, I wanted to see if I would like the soup here. I asked the cashier if I can taste the soup before ordering. He was happy to provide me with a small portion for tasting.

Both me and my husband loved it, and instead of going for the two different personal size soups mentioned above, we ended up getting a big bowl of the autumn squash soup. The soup wasn't bland at all, but it didn't have any spicy flavor to it either. It was sweet with mild spicy flavor. Since I loved the soup (and luckily I had received a squash in my organic basked last week), I had to try it at home.

Panera Bread's website mentions Butternut squash, pumpkin, apples, honey, and curry powder in the list of ingredients for the soup. I tried to look up for a recipe online. I saw many versions of "copycat" recipes for this soup, but none of them listed pumpkin in them. So, I made up my own recipe.

Since I had delicate squash at home, that is what I used. You can substitute with Butternut Squash if you like.

Okay, enough of the history:). Here is the recipe.

1 Medium Delicata Squash, Peeled, Seeded and Chopped into 1inch Cubes (Yields about 3 Cups of Chopped Squash)
1 Cup Pumpkin, Peeled, Seeded and Chopped into 1 inch Cubes,
1 Medium Honey Crisp or Gala Apple, Seeded and Chopped into 1 inch cubes, No Need to Peel (You can try a bit sour varieties like Granny Smith too to impart some tartness to the soup),
Salt to taste
5 No. All Spice, Crushed (1 Teaspoon Powder), Optional
1 Leek, (about 1/3 Cup Chopped) Green Portion Removed, White Portion Chopped Finley (You can substitute this with Onion).
3 Tablespoon Honey,
1 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Crushed Pepper,
2 Teaspoon Garam Masala (or Curry Powder)
1 Tablespoon Oil
1/2 Cup Water
1/2 Cup Milk

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the chopped squash, pumpkin and apple in a deep baking dish. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes, or until the squash and pumpkin get soft. Take out of the oven, take off the foil and let it cool.

In the meantime, heat oil in a pan. Once it is hot, add the leek (or onion) and cook on medium heat until translucent.

While the leek is getting cooked, mash the squash, pumpkin and apples with the help of a potato masher. Add the milk and mix well. Add the mixture to the cooked leek. Add salt, honey, garam masala(curry powder), all spice (optional) and the crushed black pepper and mix well. Add water as needed (I used 1/2 cup).

Let this mixture cook for about a minute and then turn off the stove. Let it cool a bit.

In a mixer grinder or a food processor, puree the mixture in small batches. Return the puree to the cooking pan and simmer covered for 5 minutes.

Serve hot garnished with toasted squash or pumpkin seeds.

Note: See this post for the toasted seeds recipe.
Tip: I put the seeds in the oven when I put the squash and pumpkin. The seeds were done in about 15 minutes.

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