Nothing says autumn like a crisp chill in the air, the distant smell of wood burning from someone’s chimney, and the warming comfort of a bowl of butternut squash soup. With its brilliant orange colour, warm gingery notes and earthy parsnip, this soup was made for fall. A simple recipe that comes together quickly, I make this often during the cooler months, in part by taking advantage of a time-saving tip: buying the squash pre-peeled and cut at the grocery store. Then again if you have the time, there is something really satisfying when you select a perfect, smooth and plump butternut squash like the one pictured below, and take the time to peel and and chop it yourself. This particular squash was so large, just the top half provided enough for this soup recipe. If you do cut your own, set the seeds aside and toast them with some salt at about 375° for 15–20 minutes until deep golden, they are such a tasty snack!
Once you’ve prepped all your veggies, start by gently cooking the leeks and garlic over low heat.
Next add the ginger, turning up the heat to medium high and stirring that ginger around to draw out the flavour. Add the butternut and parsnip. Sauté in the pot until a slight brown crust develops on the bottom of the pan—these brown bits add a lovely depth of flavour to your soup when you add the chicken stock and scrape them up (for a vegetarian option you can go with vegetable broth instead).
Bring to a boil and simmer gently with the stock and some water for about 20 minutes (covered). When the squash and parsnip are soft, its ready to be puréed. I like to use an immersion blender as it saves the mess of having to transfer the hot soup into a blender (and avoids having to clean all those extra dishes!)
How gorgeous does that incredible orange soup look in that red enamelware pot?!
Now you could stop here and serve the soup with some thin strips of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and enjoy. However, if you want to really turn this into a show-stopper, fry up some parsnip chips to use as garnish. I use a vegetable peeler to slice a parsnip into ultra thin strips, heat a small frying pan with oil and fry until golden and crisp. Toss with a bit of Malden Salt and they are divine earthy treasures that really lift the parsnip notes from the soup to elevate the dish.
The colourful soup takes on a lovely modern style with the addition of the parsnip chips. The perfect bowl to celebrate the beginning of the harvest season!
Butternut Ginger Soup with Parsnip Chips
A rich soup with the warming heat of ginger and a hint of earthy sweetness from parsnips. With no added cream, there is no guilt in treating yourself to this autumn favourite! The parsnip chips make for great presentation and add to the flavour, but If you don't have time, it is still a great dish without them.
- 8 cups Butternut squash, cut into 1/2" pieces (2.5 lbs)
- 2 tbsp Olive oil
- 2 cups Medium leeks, white and green parts, cut into 1/4" pieces (approx 2 leeks, 7 oz)
- 3 cloves Garlic, peeled and minced
- 2 tsp Fresh ginger, finely grated
- 1 cup Parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/4" pieces
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 2 cups water
- 1 parsnip, sliced into thin strips using a vegetable peeler
- 1 cup canola oil
- 2 oz Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, thinly sliced
Cut and prep all of the ingredients. Heat olive oil in a large stockpot or dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add garlic and leeks and cook, covered, for about 5 minutes until the leeks have wilted and softened. Add ginger and cook for about 30 seconds, stirring well.
Increase heat to medium high and add squash, parsnip, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until a golden crust forms on the bottom of the pot. This will help develop a rich flavour for your soup. Add the chicken stock and water, scraping up all the browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
Bring stock to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Test the squash and parsnips to ensure they are soft and cooked through. Once ready, blend the vegetables and stock into a puree using an immersion blender. Do a taste check to ensure the salt levels are good, and keep on low heat while you make the parsnip chips.
In a small sauté pan, heat the canola oil on medium high. Test the oil to see if it's hot enough by placing a single piece of parsnip in the oil—if it sizzles you can add enough to loosely fill the pan as shown, two batches worked well for my 6" pan. Don't overfill or the oil temperature will get too low. Fry the chips until they are a nice golden brown, then transfer to a paper towel lined plate and sprinkle with salt to taste (Malden works nicely if you have it).
Once all the chips are ready, serve the soup into bowls, add slices of Parmigiano Reggiano and top with a bundle of parsnip chips.