The best butternut squash soup comes from The Asylum Restaurant in the tiny town of Jerome in the Black Hills of central Arizona. If you're not headed to Jerome anytime soon, it's quite simple to make butternut squash soup.
Being one of my favorite soups, I try it whenever it's on a menu but it's often too sweet. When I want soup, I don't want to feel like I'm drinking a pumpkin pie. That's why The Asylum is the benchmark for great soup. It's not sickeningly thick or cloyingly sweet. It's lightly spicy and the heaviness of the squash is tempered by the addition of beer and a dollop of cinnamon lime crema.
I make a butternut squash soup that is inspired by The Asylum without being a copycat. It has a rich brown color and light creaminess due to the addition of milk stout. A strongly hoppy or bitter beer would be overpowering, but a creamy stout is perfect. The soup is loaded with chopped green onions and roasted garlic.
Milk Stout & Roasted Garlic Butternut Squash Soup
1 large butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 head of garlic, peeled
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
2 teaspoons sesame or peanut oil
2 dried chile de árbol peppers, or 1 dried poblano pepper
1 heaping tablespoon Better Than Bouillon (no-chicken or vegetable flavor) (optional)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup milk stout (or other non-hoppy, non-bitter beer)
1 bunch of green onions, cleaned and chopped
2 teaspoons soy sauce
salt, pepper, and brown sugar to taste
Step 1 : Preheat oven to 350. In a roasting pan toss the squash, garlic, and onion with oil. Bake for an hour or until squash are soft and garlic are starting to brown. Stir vegetables occasionally while baking and add a bit of water to the pan as necessary to keep vegetables moist and prevent sticking.
Step 2 : While baking, soak chili peppers in a small dish of hot water to soften. Alternatively, the chilis can be added to the roasting pan approximately half way through roasting, but monitor for burning. Over roasted chilis can bring bitterness to the soup.
Step 3 : Transfer roasted vegetables into a blender along with chili peppers. Add water to the top of the vegetables and blend until smooth.
Step 4 : Transfer blended veggies into a soup pot along with thyme, beer, and soy sauce. Bring to a light simmer for 20 minutes, then add chopped green onions along with 1 tablespoon of brown sugar. If you prefer a less raw onion-y flavor, add only the green onion tops. Increase sugar to desired sweetness. Salt & pepper to taste and simmer a few more minutes just until green onions have softened.
Optional: During the last few minutes of cooking, you might stir in 1/2-1 cup of dairy or cashew cream for extra creaminess. Or, try coconut cream and a teaspoon of curry powder.