Butternut Squash Soup

When I make a squash soup, I like to keep it light with kefir, a creamy, cultured yogurt. Kefir is a little bit lighter than crème fraîche, and it gives butternut squash soup a nice, bright acidity.
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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 2 hr
  • Active: 1 hr 30 min
  • Yield: 6 servings
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Ingredients

Vegetable Stock

2 ribs celery

2 large carrots

1 large onion

1 bulb fennel

6 cloves garlic

2 cups butternut squash, peeled and chopped

8 cups Water

1 tablespoon whole cloves

2 sticks cinnamon

1 tablespoon allspice

4 sprigs thyme

Soup

4 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed

2 shallots, thinly sliced

4 cloves garlic

Salt and pepper

4 sprigs thyme

3 bay leaves

1 dried chili

3/4 cup olive oil, divided

1/4 cup champagne or white wine vinegar

2 cups plain kefir, divided

Zest of 1 lemon

6 cups vegetable stock

Directions

  1. For the stock: Roughly chop the celery, carrots (skin on), onion (skin off), and fennel (including fronds) into large chunks and place in a large stock pot. Add the garlic, butternut squash, and water. Make a bouquet garni by wrapping the cloves, cinnamon, allspice, and thyme in cheesecloth. Add it to the stock pot and bring to a boil; then reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered for 1½ hours. Strain and set aside to cool slightly while finishing the soup. Note: Stock can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator up to one week, freezer up to one month.
  2. Roast the vegetables: Preheat oven to 400 F. In a roasting pan, add squash, shallot, and garlic. Season with salt and combine. Then add thyme, bay leaves, chili, 1/4 cup of oil, and vinegar. Lightly toss and roast in the oven until tender and cooked through, about 35 minutes.
  3. Assemble the soup: Make a finishing sauce by combining 1 cup kefir with ¼ cup oil, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Set aside. When the vegetables are roasted, remove the aromatics (thyme, bay leaves, chili) and blend with 6 cups of the vegetable stock. With the blender on low speed, add 1/4 cup oil and 1 cup kefir. Remove the blender top, taste, and add salt as needed, blending to combine. Serve the soup with kefir sauce drizzled on top.