Thick and rich, the base of this squash (calabaza) soup is onions softened in butter and bone broth.
There were a number of similar recipes in the archive. I’ve done squash soup so many times in the past and it was inevitable that there would be versions. But when you discover a much better way of doing a dish, even when you thought that the old ones were already good, you know that you have to set aside the rest in order to give way to the new.
I’m retiring all the old versions because this recipe is ten times better than all of them combined. It’s about learning. When you learn new things, it’s not wise to insist on sticking with old ways.
What makes this squash soup recipe stand out? The soup base. This isn’t just bone broth.
You start with melted butter where you throw on thinly sliced sweet onions. You let the onion slices sweat over low heat in a covered pan until the edges are starting to brown. Caramelization of the onions’ natural sugars.
You turn the heat up a bit and add bones. I used meaty pork bones this time but note that you can substitute beef, chicken, duck, turkey or a combination of two or more kinds. The flavor of the broth will vary depending on the bones you use but the soup will be delicious just the same.
Patience is required though. The bones and onions have to simmer for a couple of hours. The cooking liquid has to reduce by half to get concentrated flavors. At that point, you add your squash and continue simmering until the the squash is mushy.
In this recipe, I used a combination of squash and potatoes to make a thicker and smoother soup. Squash does not have enough starch to make the coup velvety and potatoes help achieve that effect.
When the squash and potato cubes were so soft that they break apart when pierced with a fort, liquefying them came next. I used an immersion blender because that’s the most convenient tool. If you don’t have one, you can scoop out the soft vegetables (including the onion slices), dump them into the blender, add a cup of broth and process them until smooth.
Be extra careful though if using a blender. It is advisable to place a kitchen towel over the cover and press down lightly with one hand before pushing any button. The vegetables and broth are hot and steam can push up the cover and throw it up. So, use your hand to make sure it stays in place. Should the soup spill during processing, the towel will protect your hand.
- Immersion blender
- ¼ cup butter
- 3 cups thinly sliced onion
- 1 kilogram meat bones (pork, beef, chicken or turkey, or a combination of two or more of them; or see notes after the recipe)
- mixed dried herbs (see notes after the recipe)
- 1 kilogram squash peeled, seeds discarded then cubed
- 300 grams starchy potatoes peeled and cubed
- In a large and thick-bottomed pot, melt the butter.
- Toss the sliced onions in the hot butter until every piece is glistening with fat.
- Cover the pot and cook the onion slices over low heat until very soft and the edges are starting brown. Stir the onions occasionally to prevent scorching.
- Turn up the heat to medium-low and add the meat bones to the onions. Turn the bones every few minutes, stirring the onions around as well to prevent burning, and cook until the bones (any any meat attached to them) are starting to brown.
- Pour in about 10 cups of water, sprinkle in salt, pepper and herbs, and bring to the boil. Lower the heat, cover the pot and simmer for two hours or until the liquid is reduced by half. Taste occasionally and adjust the seasonings, as needed.
- Scoop out the bones.
- Add the cubes squash and potatoes to the broth and bring to the boil. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until the vegetables are mushy.
- Off the heat, plunge the immersion blender into the pot to liquefy the vegetables.
- Taste the squash soup. Adjust the seasonings one last time, if needed, before serving.
- To serve, sprinkle with slices scallions and fried shallots. Totally optional but these two additional ingredients do make a world of difference.
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