I wound up with wet, cold feet twice this week and it’s only Thursday. Back to back frigid-foot-soakings can only mean one thing: The triumphant return of the cozy season. Yes, I’m ready to hunker down under a heavy duvet of mashed potatoes, cuddle up to some meatballs, and wade into a vat of this Cheesy Squash Soup. I, of course, don’t mean any of this literally. I don’t think mashed potatoes offer an appropriate amount of insulation. But you get my point. We’ve entered the time of year when comfort food reigns supreme. So what better way to welcome our cozy favorites back than with a big pot of soup loaded with beer, cheese, and squash?
Now, I’ve never been one to sneak vegetables into recipes. Probably because I don’t have children and I would heavily roll my eyes at any adult that would require me to do such a thing. So that’s why you see the word “squash” in this recipe’s title. But if you do have a tiny human dodging all attempts to add vitamins to their diet, you could casually forget the word “squash” and they would be none-the-wiser.
Oh and I know I said this soup has beer in it in the paragraph above and now I’m talking about feeding it to kids in the paragraph below. You really don’t need to worry about the beer in this recipe. By the time the soup reaches a bowl, the alcohol will have completely cooked off.
And speaking of squash, let’s talk about the turban squash. Now, the turban squash is less available than it aught to be. Only one grocery store in my vacinity carries them. So I will definitely provide you with the names of a few substitutes you can use in this soup. But before I talk about how to replace it, let’s actually talk about it.
Now, the turban squash is hard to miss. I think many people mistake it for a decorative gourd instead of a variety you can actually eat. I mean, it’s not hard to see why. The turban squash is quite striking. It’s two-tiered structure and painted skin make it instantly recognizable. But it’s good looks do have a drawback. The turban squash is not easy to open. Apparently, you can pop it in the microwave to soften it up for a moment or two before cutting it, but I, unfortunately, only learned that tip after the fact.
Yes, I went in armed only with a knife and elbow grease and while it took a little longer than I would’ve liked, I did make it in. And once it was cracked open, I was beyond pleased I, quite literally, muscled my way through. You get a lot of meat from a turban squash. I only used half of one for this Cheesy Squash Soup, and I’m thinking of splitting the remaining half into two and stretching it across two dinners.
But beyond sheer volume, the turban squash also tastes great. It boasts a yellow golden flesh that is firm like a buttercup squash but with more moisture, like an acorn. The squash’s flavor is mellow and sweet and not particularly assertive. It plays very well with others and lends a hard-to-place sweetness to the dishes it inhabits. The turban squash is like a solid bass player, not a lead singer.
Okay, now that we’ve sung the turban squash’s praises, let’s talk about how to replace it. As I mentioned, it has a similar texture to the buttercup squash, which is a favorite on this blog. But if you go the buttercup route, be prepared to add a little more liquid to the soup. Buttercup squash is starchier than the turban.
Another good candidate is the kabocha squash. It is probably the closest to the turban in terms of flavor and texture. But in some parts of the world, it is as difficult to find as the turban, which really isn’t useful. So the more pedestrian option would be the butternut. They tend to be more watery than the turban, so again, pay attention to the consistency of your soup and err on the side of adding less stock.
I won’t get into the method behind this Cheesy Squash Soup because it isn’t particularly tricky. What you’ll find in the recipe below is the classic roadmap to soup excellence. You start with a mirepoix, you add the liquid, puree and add a splash of cream. If you’ve made a potato leek soup before, you’re more than prepared to take this guy on. One thing to watch out for is boiling the soup after you’ve added the cheese. Just don’t do it. It curdles the dairy and makes it go grainy.
So that’s everything you need to know about this Cheesy Squash Soup. It’s easy to make, cheesy, and velvety. In other words, this soup is the best way to combat damp, frigid feet.
Cheesy Squash Soup with Crispy Sage
- Food processor or immersion blender
- Large enamel-coated cast-iron pot
- 4 tbsp olive oil divided
- 1 sweet onion diced
- 4 celery ribs chopped
- 2 large carrots halved and sliced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- ½ turban squash ** skin and seeds removed, cut into cubes
- 2 sprigs fresh sage
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 355ml (12 oz) bottle beer I used a lager
- 4 cups low sodium vegetable stock
- 2 cups cheddar cheese shredded
- 140g (5 oz) goat cheese
- 1 tbsp prepared horseradish heaping
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard heaping
- 1 cup heavy cream
- sage leaves for frying
- garlic chive blossoms for serving
- Pour 2 tablespoons of the olive oil into a large enamel-coated cast-iron pot. Place the pot over medium heat and add the onion, celery, carrot and a pinch of salt. Saute until the onion is translucent and then add the garlic. Saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add the squash to the pot and toss to coat. Place the sage, thyme, and bay leaves in the pot and pour in the beer and vegetable stock. Bring the mixture up to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Add a healthy pinch of salt and let cook, uncovered for 25 minutes or until the squash is very tender.
- Remove and discard the thyme, sage, and bay leaves. Transfer the soup to a food processor and, working in batches, blitz the soup until velvety smooth. Return the soup to the pot and place over medium-low heat.
- Add the goat cheese and cheddar to the pot and stir until melted. Do not allow the soup to come to a boil again. Once the cheese has melted, stir in the Dijon mustard and horseradish. Pour in the cream and stir to combine. Take the soup off of the heat and cover.
- Pour the remaining 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a small skillet. Add the additional sage leaves to the pan and place over medium heat. Fry the sage until the edges curl and begin to brown. Take the pan off of the heat immediately and transfer the sage to a plate and sprinkle with finishing salt.
- Divide the soup into bowls and garnish each bowl with a few crispy sage leaves, garlic chive blossoms, and a drizzle of the oil the sage was fried in. Serve immediately.