I really enjoy making soup. Creating new soup recipes are almost as fun as slurping up the results. Okay, that’s definitely an overstatement. But I do love how effortlessly the flavors of the ingredients come together to form a pot full of natural deliciousness.
This recipe was devised by the side of my fellow foodie mom in her inspirational kitchen this past weekend. As with many of my recipes, ingredients that were readily available (i.e. fennel and mushrooms) were united to form the heart of the meal. Other complimentary ingredients were then pulled from the refridgerator and cupboards as my mom and I went back and forth until we constructed a soup in which we could be more than proud.
“More salt?” “Yeah, but just a tad. Don’t go too crazy.” “Oh, much better.” “Do we have any more thyme? Let’s do another half tablespoon of that.” “Yeah, I was thinking the same thing.” “How about we serve it in the squash?” “Hm, that’s an interesting idea.”
Alas, a delicately flavored soup was created and paired with the sweet, nutty flesh of one of our favorite ingredients—butternut squash. I’m a huge fan of butternuts, especially when slightly caramelized after being roasted in the oven. When I saw that my mom simply cut the squash in half and placed it in the oven, rather than slicing it into thin circles, I thought, why not pour the soup into it’s de-seeded stomach? So that’s what we did. Quite delicious if I do say so myself.
If the fennel fronds are in good shape, make sure to use them as a garnish. Not only do they add a nice hint of bright green, but they also add the perfect touch of fresh, crunchy flavor.
Butternut Squash Soup Bowls with Fennel and White Bean Soup
-1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil, plus a drizzle for coating squash-1/2 large onion, chopped
-1 head of fennel
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-8 oz. button mushrooms, sliced
-1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh thyme, minced
-15 oz. can great northern beans, or other white beans
-3 cups water-3/4-1 tsp. salt
-Fresh ground pepper
-2 medium butternut squash
Preheat oven 400F. Cover baking sheet with aluminum foil. Slice butternut squash in half and discard seeds. Rub with olive oil, and bake skin side up for 35-40 minutes, until squash is soft.
Meanwhile, remove stalks and fonds from fennel and set aside. Chop fennel bulb.
In a large saucepan, saute onion, fennel, and garlic in oil until onions are translucent and fennel is tender, about 8-10 minutes.
Puree 2/3 of the fennel mixture with one cup of the water until smooth. Add the rest of the water, mushrooms, and thyme to pan. Simmer until mushrooms are tender.
Return pureed fennel mixture to pan. Add beans, salt, and fresh ground pepper, adjusting to taste. Bring to a low simmer, and let cook at least 30 minutes.
Remove from heat. Sprinkle salt with freshly ground salt. Serve soup in the body of the baked squash. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper, and garnish with fennel fronds.