This recipe happened rather by accident, which I find can lead to some of the best meals. It was supposed to be a chunky soup. But, I got distracted and left the house without telling Taylor the Husband to turn off the stove once the soup had cooked for 20 minutes. Not that he should know. Scrambled eggs are about as much as he can accomplish in the kitchen (and they’re not very good). When I returned home, the house smelled amazing, but the vegetables in the soup were mush. I refuse to throw away food, so time to improvise.
I pulled out the blender, whizzed up the soup, added some cream and cayenne pepper, and it was a hearty, belly-warming, delicious meal. Score for me! I think the heat from the cayenne pepper is crucial in this soup. And so is the cream. Don’t tell me it’s not. It’s sweet from the butternut squash, salty from the ham, spicy from the pepper, and creamy from the… cream. The crunch from the homemade croutons just takes it over the top.
You know, winter only officially began nine days ago. There’s plenty of cold days ahead. It’s disgustingly depressing, I know. But when life gives you cold winter, make hot soup.
Butternut Squash and Ham Soup
Makes 4 servings
Ingredients for Soup
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 butternut squash, skinned, peeled, and chopped (seeds removed)
- about 8 oz of ham, cut into smallish cubes
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 2 cups water
- 4 sprigs of thyme
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (I prefer more, but you can season to taste)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
Ingredients for Croutons
- 4 slices good bread, such as a yummy sourdough, cubed
- 2 tbsp salted butter
- Heat a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil.
- Saute the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add the butternut squash, and saute for a few minutes.
- Add the ham, chicken stock, water, and thyme. Bring everything to a boil, and then reduce the heat to allow the soup to simmer for an hour. Cover with a lid if the liquid is reducing too much.
- After an hour, the veggies will be super mushy, which is fantastic. Remove the thyme stems. Puree in a blender until silky smooth. Be sure when you’re blending to not overfill the blender. The soup will be hot, and you don’t want it to explode out of your blender. Best to blend in two batches.
- Return the soup to your pot and mix in the cayenne pepper and cream.
- To make the croutons, melt the butter over medium heat in a large saute pan. Add the cubed bread and saute until the bread is browned nicely on all sides. Serve the soup with plenty of croutons sprinkled on top. Yum!