Butternut Squash Soup with Goat Cheese and Frangelico
This is not just another Butternut Squash Soup recipe. My Zuppa di Zucca (Butternut Squash Soup) with Goat Cheese and Frangelico is delicate and sweet as you might imagine—but with a few surprises. This is an easy soup to make. It can be served hot or at room temperature and YES – it can be made ahead and frozen. One of the surprises is of course the Goat Cheese or Chevre – in the soup! It adds a little more substance – an earthiness to the soup and elevates the flavor level. As always, I like to use the chevre from my local cheese artisan – see link: CALYROAD CREAMERY . I am fortunate to have such a gifted source for my cheese, as I am a believer that quality breeds quality.
The Chevre: In this amazing velvety soup, I use the goat cheese in the soup, itself, and also as a garnish before serving.
The flavors: Aside from the sweet butternut squash, other ingredients are introduced in this soup which add exceptional new levels to its flavor. Fresh apple, honey, nutmeg, and whole cloves bring a sweet spiciness which almost make you think of dessert – although the sweetness is only hinted and does not dominate the dish. My argument with many recipes for this soup is that they are many times too sweet and the flavors of the wonderful fresh ingredients are often masked. That is not the case here.
The kick: Of course, you know there must be something special that sets this Zuppa di Zucca apart. In this case, I would say that it is definitely the use of Frangelico, a delightful Italian, easy to find, hazelnut liqueur. It comes in a cool bottle shaped like a monk’s robe – thus the name. Like the goat cheese, the Frangelico is used in the soup as well as at the very end just before serving. It is that last touch of Frangelico, not cooked in, and used as a finish, floating on the top, that gives the soup a sweet and lovely kick and sends the taste buds into an alternate universe. Well—almost… ( if Frangelico is not an option for you – try Hazelnut Syrup) In addition to the Frangelico, I also add some toasted chopped hazelnuts on the top which give the soup a little crunch and compliment the hazelnut liqueur flavor.
The result: It has been my experience that it is very difficult to stop eating this soup. Caution! Control the portions for your guests or the cries of “More, More” will overtake the pleasant conversation you had hoped for at your table and no one will have room left for the main course.
The surprise! How about serving this amazing soup in shooter glasses as appetizers. Room temperature is perfect for these – or even serve them cold if you like. You should offer spoons as your guests will not want to miss a drop!
Don’t wait for Thanksgiving! This is a dish you’ll want to serve all through the fall season. Andiamo!
ZUPPA DI ZUCCA
(Butternut Squash Soup)
Prep: 30-40 minutes
Cook: 20-25 minutes
1 Tbsp. Olive oil
2 Tbsp. Butter
2 lb. peeled, chopped butternut squash( you can buy this already peeled and chopped to save time but it is more expensive. Peeling, chopping, seeding yourself is not difficult. It just takes a little time. Be sure to use a sharp knife.)
1 Medium Onion – chopped
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage.
1 Sweet apple, chopped ( a Golden Delicious is perfect.)
Pinch fresh nutmeg
2 Whole Cloves
2 Tsp. good local Honey
2 Tbsp. Frangelico + extra for drizzling at the end (Hazelnut Syrup can be substituted)
1/4 tsp. Cayenne Pepper (optional)
3 c. Chicken broth
1/2 c. whole milk
6 -8 oz. Crumbled Chevre or goat cheese + more for garnish (do not use pre-crumbled cheese for this – it’s kind of dry and nasty) Your choice on amount here. If you really like the goat – you might like a little more and go for the 8 oz. The 6 oz. is a happy medium.
Coarsely Chopped toasted hazelnuts for garnish
Put oil and melt butter in a large pan or pot.
Add butternut squash, onion, apple, sage, nutmeg, cloves, honey, Frangelico, Cayenne Pepper if using. Saute 5 minutes and stir well to coat all of the ingredients.
Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer 20-25 minutes until the squash is tender. Cool just a few minutes.
Remove the cloves.
Add salt and pepper.
Add the ingredients to a blender in batches and puree. You can also use an immersion blender.
Return all to the pot and heat soup. Add the milk and the goat cheese. Stir and melt the cheese. Do not let the soup boil! You might help it along by crushing the cheese a little with back of spoon. You can also use the immersion blender again here if you like. It breaks the cheese up quickly. Don’t worry if there are tiny pieces of cheese left in the soup. If you like a thinner soup, you can always thin it with a little chicken broth.
Test for seasoning. Be sure there is enough salt added to bring the flavors forward.
At this point you can freeze the soup.
When ready to serve the Zuppa Di Zucca: ladle warm soup into dishes – or if serving at room temp – martini glasses are nice for this or even “shooter” glasses for a buffet. Your soup will provide more and smaller servings if serving in the glasses. For garnish: place some crumbled goat cheese and toasted hazelnuts on the top of each bowl or glass. Finally, drizzle a little Frangelico over the top of each serving and float it. You will not believe what this little drizzle adds to the soup. Just trust me on this one!
PARLA COME MANGI!