Roasted Garlic & Hazelnut Butternut Squash Soup is one of the easiest, coziest dishes you can make this fall. Rich, creamy, and naturally vegan and gluten-free — read on, or jump straight to the recipe HERE.
The writer Phoebe Nobles once said of eating asparagus after a long, dark Michigan winter: “living in a place of lesser contrasts, how would you know what it feels like to come back from the dead?”
I couldn’t have said it better, but I would add that after a sticky, oppressive Michigan summer, nothing feels quite so rejuvenating as a bowl of squash soup on one of the first truly chilly evenings of the year.
Every year at the first turn of leaves, I make a batch of squash soup. Butternut with sage… Kabocha with curry… classic and not-so. And every year I think, “this is it, my favorite soup.” And it is, for at least the next five months or so. But every year I can’t seem to help trying something else, and predictably, that becomes my new number one. Do you see where this is going?
Butternut squash, roasted garlic, toasted hazelnuts: these are a few of my favorite things. And really, they are all you need to make this soup. (Plus some water to take it from a puree to a soup consistency, of course.) But making something with three ingredients just for the sake of calling it “three ingredient soup” is silly — not when it can be be made much tastier, albeit less sexy sounding, with seven ingredients.
The secret to getting lots of rich, roasty hazelnut flavor into a soup like this? Hazelnut oil. This stuff is intensely hazelnut-y and adds a luxurious, velvety feel to this soup in addition to ramping up the flavor in a way hazelnuts alone just can’t do. Throw in a little glug of maple syrup to bring out the sweetness of the squash, and now we’re really talking. Together they make for an incredibly simple recipe that’s addictively sweet and savory.
The other secret weapon in this soup (okay, it’s in the title so it’s not so secret) is roasted garlic.
Roasting garlic couldn’t be easier, but it makes a tremendous difference. All you need are a head of garlic, a tablespoon or so of olive oil, and a sheet of aluminum foil to make a little pouch in which the garlic and oil can get cozy together. Just lop off the top of the garlic to expose the cloves, drizzle liberally with oil (and add a pinch of salt if you like), then wrap the foil up around the garlic and scrunch closed. Roast until golden brown and soft.
Roasted garlic has a much mellower flavor than raw garlic, so the whole bulb can be squeezed like toothpaste straight into the pot (seriously one of the most satisfying things ever). This is a great way to get your garlic fix without the harshness of raw garlic.
(You can check out my post on how to roast garlic step-by-step HERE.)
- 1 large butternut squash (about 3½ lbs)
- 1 head of garlic
- olive oil
- 2-3 TBSP roasted hazelnut oil, to taste (this is the one I used)
- 2-3 TBSP real maple syrup, to taste
- 4-5 cups water, as needed
- Salt and pepper (or white pepper), to taste
- Hazelnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
- Fresh parsley, chopped (optional, but nice)
- pinche of paprika, cayenne pepper, or chili powder, to taste (optional)*
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F., and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment or foil.
- Cut squash in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds. Arrange on the baking sheet cut-side up, and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
- Slice the top off the bulb of garlic, so that all of the cloves are revealed. Place bulb onto a square of aluminum fol, and drizzle liberally with olive oil. Sprinkle with a little salt, and fold the foil up around the bulb to create a tightly sealed packet. Place on the baking sheet along with the squash.
- Roast for about an hour, or until the squash is fork tender and the garlic is golden in color and very soft (be careful peeling open the foil to check the garlic, as there will be hot steam inside). The time will vary depending on the size of your squash, so if the garlic is done before the squash, remove it and let the squash continue roasting until tender.
- Let the squash and garlic cool enough so you can handle them. Using a spoon, scoop the meat of the squash out of the skin. Unwrap the garlic and use the tines of a fork or a toothpic to pluck the cloves from the paper, or squeeze the bulb from the bottom so the cloves come out the top like toothpaste from a tube.
- Add the squash and garlic to a large pot along with 2-3 cups water, and puree with an immersion blender until silky smooth, adding more water a little at a time as needed. OR, puree in batches in a stand blender, then transfer to a pot on the stove.
- Add the hazelnut oil and maple syrup, and adjust the consistency by adding more water as needed. Season well with salt and pepper, tasting until the balance is right. Feel free to add a few drops more hazelnut oil or maple syrup as needed until the flavor is perfect.
- Serve with a sprinkling of chopped hazelnuts, parsley, and a pinch of cayenne, paprika, or chili powder if you want a little warmth. (You can also garnish with something creamy like coconut milk, creme fraiche, or sour cream (or vegan alternative).)
- Leftovers can be kept in the fridge for up to a week, or frozen for several months.
You can also make this soup with any other kind of squash you like, but I particularly like butternut here for it's rich, smooth texture and sweetness. The only squash I really wouldn't recommend is acorn -- I actually tried that first just to mix things up, and found that acorn squash was too watery and bland to make a really great soup.
Tutorial for roasting garlic, here: How To Roast Garlic
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