Chef Roberto Donna got the recipe for this mild and sweet butternut squash soup from his grandmother, who "always found delicious ways to bring out the best" from her vegetable garden. Whenever he eats it, it's a comforting reminder of cold fall and winter days in her kitchen. Arborio -- the high-starch rice traditionally found in risotto -- is used here as a thickener. The garnish provides another hit of butternut squash, this time with a different texture: crisp on the outside and tender inside.
- 1 small (16 ounces) butternut squash, bulb and neck peeled and separated (neck reserved for garnish)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup finely chopped onion
- 3/4 to 1 cup arborio rice
- 5 cups milk or more to taste
- 1 cup chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
- 1/4 cup olive oil, for garnish
Cut the squash bulb in half and remove the seeds, then dice and set aside.
In a medium stockpot over medium heat, add the butter and onions and cook until the onions become translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the diced squash and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the arborio rice, 2 cups of the milk and the chicken stock or broth and stir. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer, with bubbles just breaking the surface, for 12 minutes, or until the rice kernels become plump. Add 1 cup of milk, and salt to taste. After a total cooking time of 30 minutes, remove from the heat and add 1 cup of the milk. Pour contents into a blender and puree until smooth (in batches, if necessary). Return the mixture to the stockpot and add the remaining 1 cup of milk or more if necessary for a creamy consistency. Adjust salt to taste, and mix well. Keep over low heat until ready to serve.
Meanwhile, for the garnish, have ready a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Cut the squash neck into 3/8-inch-thick slices, then crosswise into french-fry shapes. In a medium skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the squash pieces and cook until golden brown on each side, 10 to 15 minutes total. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet to absorb excess oil. Sprinkle lightly with salt to taste.
To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with the sauteed squash slices.
Adapted from chef-owner Roberto Donna of Galileo.
Tested by Pam Kendrick.
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