Butternut Squash Soup w/ Thyme & Labneh

Butternut squash soup.

It screams Fall.

It screams delicious.

It also screams overplayed and overdone.

I have a pretty solid b-nut squash recipe that I go to time and time again and it has been taste-tested and approved by the homies.

But, I figured if I was gonna put it on the blog I had to set it apart from all the basic butternut squash bitches' soups.

I kept the base of the soup the same, because if it ain't broke don't fix it, but I decided to get creative with the garnishes since that's the most fun part of soup anyway.

To begin you need the following:

Once you have your squash and onion chopped up, sweat the onion in butter with a pinch of salt. Do this on low heat for about 10 mins, stirring occasionally until translucent and slightly golden, like this:

While that happens, make the bouquet garnis.

A bouquet garnis is just a bunch of spices wrapped up in a cheesecloth and tied with twine. You could totally just toss the spices in loose (I used to do that before culinary school) but it just makes it easier to fish out later if you make the bouquet garnis.

This is what I like to use but use your own combination of spices if you prefer.

This one is savory and sweet/warm.

Perfect for Fall.

Once the onions have cooked, add the squash and a quart of chicken or vegetable stock.

I used chicken stock, if you're wondering.

Bring this to a boil, cover and reduce it to a simmer (low heat).

Cook until the squash is tender, mine took about 20 minutes.

Once that happens, strain the squash and onions but make sure to reserve the stock, you will use it when pureeing the soup.

From the photo above you can see that the aroma of this soup will bring creatures out of the woodwork that stare at you will longing eyes reeking of desperation.

I gave him a little chunk of squash.

That bastard.

Anyway, remove and discard the bouquet garnis.

Begin pureeing the soup with a ladle or two of the stock at first.

Once it's pureed, add more stock if needed to get the consistency you want.

Then season with S&P, to taste.

Now comes the fun part.

Garnish!

I wanted to add a little tang to the rich soup so I decided to take some labneh, which is a kefir cheese/strained yogurt so you could either buy some labneh at the grocery store (I found some at Safeway) or you can make some by straining regular yogurt. Here's a super easy recipe.

Also, if all that seems like too much, just use greek yogurt. It's easier to find and you might already have some in your fridge. You can even use crème fraîche.

Either way, take a generous dollop of the labneh/greek yogurt and mix it with a splash of water. You want it the consistency of heavy cream.

Now garnish and decorate with the labneh sauce and whatever herbs you like.

I experimented with thyme and edible flowers until I settled on the swirly design.

Here is my garnishing journey:

Which one was your favorite?

RECIPE

1 butternut squash
1 onion
1 bunch of thyme
few bay leaves
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick
1 quart chicken/vegetable stock
1 dollop labneh (or greek yogurt, if you can't get labneh)
2-3 tbsp butter
S&P, to taste

Peel and chop up the butternut squash and the onion.

Melt a tbsp of butter in a pot and add the chopped onions and a pinch of salt.

Cook on low heat till translucent and slightly golden, about 10 mins.

In the meantime, combine the labneh with enough water to get it to the consistency of heavy cream. Add the water a little at a time. Set aside.

An optional step is to make a bouquet garnis, a.k.a seasoning pouch. You can just throw spices in loose instead but make sure to fish them out before pureeing the soup. Using a bouquet garnis makes removal of the spices easier. To make the bouquet garnis, wrap the a few sprigs of thyme, the bay leaves, peppercorns and cinnamon stick in a piece of cheesecloth and wrap with twine. (See images above)

Once the onions have cooked, add the squash, stock and bouquet garnis to the pot and bring to a boil.

Once boiling, reduce to simmer and cover. Cook for about 20 mins, or until squash is tender.

Once the squash is tender, strain the soup into a bowl to make sure to reserve the stock. Remove and discard the bouquet garnis and transfer the the squash and onions into a blender with a ladle of the reserved stock.

Puree the soup, adding stock as needed until desired consistency is reached. Add the remaining butter and season with S&P, to taste.

Blend until silky smooth and transfer to a bowl.

Garnish with thyme leaves and swirl in the labneh using a spoon. Enjoy!