At around 6:00 the other night, six-year-old Abby made her way into the kitchen to ask what she usually asks at 6:00 when I’m in the kitchen.
“Mom, what’s for dinner?”
Even though Andy had started hacking up a butternut squash about six hours earlier, even though I was standing there over a stock pot, wielding an immersion blender, minutes away from pureeing the cooked squash with apple into a lovely soup, I answered what I always answer when I’m not sure she’s going to like the answer.
“I don’t know yet.”
I had introduced the soup to the family last fall and I had the distinct recollection that her sister loved it. But I’m pretty sure Abby was lukewarm on it. And as far as I can tell, there’s no faster way to get her to reject something at the table than to give her an hour to think about exactly how lukewarm she was on it. The do-ask-don’t-tell policy is in place as much for my well-being as it is for hers. I can’t beat myself up for giving her something she doesn’t like if I didn’t know she didn’t like it, right? Not sure who I’m trying to convince here.
Butternut Squash Soup with Apples
2022 Update: The above post was written over a dozen years ago, and I’m pleased to report that now college-age Abby reliably, enjoyably consumes this soup, and in fact, has no memory of shunning it. (Parents of littles: There’s hope!) The recipe is a riff on Barefoot Contessa’s recipe, which is a riff on Silver Palate’s recipe. Totally back-pocket worthy.
1 medium onion, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
leaves from 2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tablespoon curry powder (madras or not)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 butternut squash (about 2 pounds), peeled, halved, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes; if you can find pre-chopped squash, by all means go for it (you want about 4 1/2 cups of squash cubes)
2 apples (Fuji, Macintosh, or Cortland preferred, but just about any will work except Red Delicious), peeled, cored, and cut into chunks
3 1/2 cups vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
drizzle of apple cider (optional)
Garnishes: chopped toasted walnuts or spicy pecans (shown in top photo), sour cream or crème fraiche, snipped chives
In a Dutch oven or a soup pot set over medium heat, brown the onion in olive oil until slightly wilted, about 3 minutes. Add salt, pepper, thyme, curry powder, and cayenne. Stir and cook to toast the spices a bit, about 1 minute. Add the squash and apples and enough broth to cover it all by about a half inch. Bring to a boil, then simmer 30 minutes until squash chunks are tender. Puree with a handheld immersion blender, or in batches in the blender, adding apple cider or more broth until it reaches desired consistency. Serve with desired toppings.
[Photo and recipe updated October 2022]
I made the exact same thing last week but added sage instead of cayenne. I like the sounds of that though…a little spice for the soul.
That sounds wonderful. God, I love fall!
Also nice topped with warmed applesauce (especially the chunky homemade variety, but I won’t push it…)
i’m going to try this, but one step lazier even than the bagged stuff: i’munna try it with the canned organic BNS from TJ’s (i’m living out of boxes, that’s my excuse). i’ll let you know how it goes. (or doesn’t.)
oh, and my friend Eric’s mom always said, “Poisoned garbage” whenever anyone had the nards to ask her what was for dinner. (And i have a magnet somewhere that says, “I always offer two choices for dinner: Take it or leave it!” If I unearth it, i’ll send it to Abby.)
Oh, thanks. I just made a delicata squash soup that is delish but a bit bland and was thinking about garnishes. It’s a huge batch so maybe I’ll swirl in some of the applesauce to it and see if that helps (thanks commenter Audrey, above). Thanks for the yummy ideas!
654- Take it or leave it is my new favorite answer. That’s the best thing I’ve ever heard.
Yum! I made a version of this two nights ago and my daughter turned her nose WAY UP, even though it was mostly apple and apple juice. I hate toddlers, but love your site. Even though it doesn’t give me a lot of hope for the future, pickinesswise (I thought that stuff would magically evaporate, maybe around age 5–sigh)
Mmmmm, what a perfect & versatile fall dish!
I take a nice approach to the “what’s for dinner” questions. Even if I were joking, I couldn’t bring myself to call my cooking “poison garbage” I don’t see that bringing many people to the table!
“I’m not sure yet” and “We’ll see” work well for dishes I know the girl might talk herself out of eating.
I always offer a nice piece of toast if she doesn’t want to eat what I cooked that evening 🙂
I made this last night… or rather my husband did using the Time for Dinner book. I roasted the squash in the morning (where did I find the time? Ask the 1 year old who insisted on waking up that morning for good at 5 AM) and he did the rest in the evening. My son declared this the best soup he’s ever eaten. I never thought to add juice or cider to it and that is what made it so delicious.
654 – I am going to try to use the word ‘nards’ in my everyday conversation and also ‘poisoned garbage’ as a dinner option might work with my 5 year old, he’d taste it to see if it were true. 😉
Perfect timing– just got my CSA box and a butternut squash is looking at me. One question. I find cutting it up as you describe to be such a pain in the neck. Any big disadvantage to halving, seeding, and then microwaving the thing before adding the scooped parts to the other ingredients?
Kim – I just sliced it half, pierced it with a fork on the skin side and then baked it skin side down at 425 for 45 minutes.When I could stick a knife all the way through it, it was done. I scooped out the seeds after it was cooked.
I always told my children when they asked the “what’s for dinner” question either, “fried elephant souffle” or “antelope stew”
I’ve made Ina’s version before and my children thought I was torturing them. Literally torturing them. I love it though and will look for any excuse to serve it to friends!
Whenever I make soup for dinner, the announcement of it is greeted with moans and groans by my husband and son. But inevitably after dinner, one of them will say “Wow, that was really good, why don’t we have soup for dinner more often?”
Fran – Keep the flame of hope alive! Abby ate nothing but raisins and Pediasure for an entire year of her life. Now she eats about 80% of what we put in front of her. Butternut Squash falls in the other 20%.
This looks delicious…I just wish my picky boys would think so!
Ok I did it 654. I used your great reply to what was for dinner. It felt so good. Did they eat what we made? Welll, they went with option b. But that is ok because they know I mean business and hope they will choose option A soon. thanks for the great idea.
I told my mom about this website yesterday, and she surprised me with this supper tonight! It was beautiful. : ) Your website has rekindled my mother’s drive to make supper. Thanks for your lovely presentation and delightful recipes.
loved this line: ” adding apple cider (apple juice box?)”
i totally busted open a lemonade juice box the other day to use for lemon juice in a recipe (turned out fine, by the way)
Yum!! I just found your blog earlier this week and this looked delicious. We made it last night and it will now be included in our permanant rotation. Thanks!
Yummy! Thanks for the recipe. I made this on
Wednesday night added some fresh bread and everyone minus my Abby loved it!
Made this on Thanksgiving (we celebrated with family and turkey a day late on Friday) and it was big hit, even with my 4 1/2 y.o.! (18 month old didn’t go for it, however.) Skipped the apple cider, that would have been way too sweet (probably because I used Fuji apples) and used leftover bread for homemade croutons on top, which was the selling point for my son, I’m sure. So easy and tasty– thanks!
I know I could use either, but I’m curious: do you all use red or green apples for this soup? I imagine red would be quite sweet, but I’m not sure how the tartness of green would do… Can’t wait to make. Thanks!
I wonder if you could substitute pumpkin? That’s what’s in my freezer right now.
Made this recipe last night with mixed reviews. And my house still REEKS of curry. A tbsp is like, a lot. I would make this again with half as much or no curry.
I did try this with pumpkin and apples. It was really good.
Since the apples float, how do you cover them with 1/2 inch of broth?