"That soup, that soup is amazing. It's better than what most restaurants make. You could open a restaurant with that soup."
These are pretty powerful words, considering that they came from one of my most critical, food-obsessed friends. This is a friend who has traveled the world, eaten at multiple Michelin-starred restaurants in France and the U.S., and is always on top of the food scene in Boston.
The comment was made at a New Years party several years back. We were doing a potluck of sorts. My friend assigned each guest a particular dish to bring, which he then paired with a specially chosen wine.
My soup, inspired by something I had tried at the now-defunct Upstairs on the Square, took a simple blended butternut squash soup and elevated it by adding crabmeat and mushroom essence. We paired the final product with a beautiful champagne (Krug!) and it was divine.
It's a gorgeously elegant and luxurious soup.
But guess what? It's also very, very easy to make.
I've scaled the same soup and served it as a butternut squash crab "shooter" (or amuse bouche?) to fifty guests at my company's Thanksgiving potluck last year. I love how simple and scaleable this soup is.
After all, it involves just a few ingredients.
Of course butternut squash is key. I regularly get them through my farm share, so I always seem to have some on hand. Chop up one butternut squash into 1-inch chunks.
You'll need aromatics. I usually use yellow onions, but you could also use shallots, or any other type of onion, really.
In a saucepan, saute onions with olive oil until they are nicely softened, about 5-10 minutes. Add butternut squash and broth. Bring to a boil and then simmer until the butternut squash is soft, about 15 minutes. At this point, if you want to add umami, you can optionally add mushroom powder.
I use the "Soup" setting, though I usually only let it run for about 30-40 seconds since I don't need the blender to heat up my soup for me since it's already warm. I would highly recommend using the highest powered blender you have. The high-powered blenders will achieve that ultra-creamy texture we're looking for here.
If you're going fancy, get some real crab. For pre-packaged ones, opt for the highest quality (i.e. more expensive) you can find. More likely than not, the crab will be sweeter and more flavorful. If you're really ambitious, feel free to steam your own crabs and pull out the crab meat (!). I've never done, that, but I'm sure it would be amazing.
For a simpler, more affordable home meal, you can just as easily substitute real crab with a surimi-based product like Crab Delights. Crab Delights are made from Alaskan Pollock (a sustainable white fish often used in fish sticks) and real snow crab.
The Japanese are best known for using surimi in the form of kamaboko (that pink colored fishcake in ramen noodle bowls!). The Chinese love using fish cakes and fish balls in hot pots. I grew up with this stuff. It's great because it's healthy, low in fat, and high in omega-3.
Chop up the Crab Delights into pretty small pieces.
To serve, put a spoonful of crab (or Crab Delight) at the bottom of the bowl. Add the butternut squash blended soup, and then finish by sprinkling more crab on top. Garnish with sprinkled chives or the herb of your choice (but preferably not something too strong!).
Butternut Squash Crab Soup
1 butternut squash (1.5 to 2 lbs), peeled and chopped into 1-inch chunks
1 onion, sliced
1 teaspoon olive oil
4 cups chicken broth (1 carton)
4 - 8 oz Crab Delights (or fresh crabmeat)
optional - fresh chives, mushroom powder
- Over medium heat, saute onions in olive oil for 5-10 minutes, or until softened and slightly caramelized.
- Add butternut squash and chicken broth. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the squash is soft and fully cooked.
- Optionally stir in ½ teaspoon of mushroom powder (or more, to taste).
- Blend on high (or soup setting) for about 30-40 seconds, or until the soup is creamy.
- Mince Crab Delights (if fresh crab, pull apart the crabmeat into small, bite sized pieces).
- To serve, add a spoonful of crab meat on the bottom of the bowl. Add a ladle of soup. Garnish the top with more crab and optionally chopped chives.
I am thrilled to be able to give away a prize pack that includes a gorgeous tri-ply stainless steel 9-piece cooking set, a Global Grub sushi making kit, (both pictured below), and a bunch of surimi products. My recipe will be competing with a bunch of other ones at the Louis Kemp Facebook page. Please head over there and vote if you'd like. 🙂
To enter the Giveaway, comment below letting me know your favorite easy, crowd-pleasing dish to make. If you don't cook, you can comment on your favorite easy, crowd-pleasing dish to eat. 😉
Giveaway ends January 31, 2016 at Midnight, Eastern Standard Time. Winner will be chosen at random and will contacted via the email address provided. If no response is received with 24 hours, a new winner will be chosen.