Butternut Squash Soup

I wanted to start off the New Year making one of my absolute favorite soups. I only discovered it a few years ago when Freddy got the Mast Brothers cookbook as a gift. The Mast Brothers are known for their creativity with chocolate, and we love them for it! This is no ordinary butternut squash soup, as the cocoa powder deliciously compliments the savory squash. Keep reading to see this easy-to-make, yummy soup comes to life!

The ingredients you'll need are as follows: 2 pounds butternut squash (I buy 4 packs of the pre-cut squash from Trader Joe's, which makes life so much easier!), 1 medium yellow onion, 2 cloves garlic, 1 tbsp unsalted butter, 2 tbsp grated ginger, 2 tsp cocoa powder, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 chopped Serrano chile (I omitted this from our dish since I'm not a fan of spice! Instead I substituted a dash of cayenne pepper), 4 cups vegetable stock, 2 tsp sea salt, 2 tbsp cacao nibs (I omitted these as well, for lack of finding them in the store!), olive oil and toasted squash seeds to garnish.  

If you have a whole squash, you will need to peel and seed it first. Then, cut it into 1-inch cubes. Roughly chop the onion and garlic. Next, sauté the onion, garlic and squash in 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter over medium heat for about 5 minutes. I sauté everything in a large pot because in a few minutes you will need to add the vegetable stock as well. Add the ginger, cocoa powder, cinnamon and serrano chile (if desired) to your sautéed mixture and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the vegetable stock and bring to a simmer until the squash is fork-tender. Once you achieve that, puree the mixture in a blender and season with salt. I suggest only filling the blender half-way and blending in 2 batches. If you fill the blender too much, the mixture will rise up very rapidly and splatter all over your kitchen walls, like mine did :) 

Rather than garnishing our soup with toasted seeds, I prefer homemade croutons, which are very easy to make. Preheat your oven to 300, and cut up 1-inch cubes of sourdough bread. Melt 1 stick of butter and pour over bread cubes on a baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper and bake for about 25-30 minutes, depending on how crunchy you like your croutons. Finally, garnish the soup with croutons and olive oil and there you have it! A simple soup that's packed with tons of flavor, and is great for leftovers too! This soup is perfect for cold winter days, so stay cozy and warm inside as you kick off the new year with this delicious soup. Enjoy!