A Fall Favorite: Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Butternut Squash Soup
The arrival of autumn is my favorite time of year. Yes, it has something do with football, and being able to wear a cozy sweater, but it’s mostly about the hearty fall flavors. One of my favorite fall dishes hails from J&G Steakhouse (515 15th Street NW), located in the swank W Hotel in Washington, DC. In 2010, I dined at J&G and had the Butternut Squash Soup with Fall Mushrooms for the first time. I can easily recall the full-bodied flavor and gorgeous smooth, velvety texture. It was absolutely incredible – like nothing that I have ever tasted.
Ever since then, I’ve fallen in love with Butternut Squash Soup. In fact, October has just begun, and I’ve already made it once at home. The only recipe that I will ever use for the rest of my life belongs to Jean-Georges Vongerichten. I will share it with you. It’s not a secret, actually. I’ve come across the recipe in a few places, including a demo that he did on Good Morning America in 1998!
The first time that I made it, I was pleasantly surprised at the short ingredient list and simple preparation method. Is it possible that something so amazingly delicious could be this simple to make? The answer is, Yes! Last year for Thanksgiving, I took the plunge and made Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s adaptation of this seasonal creamy soup soup for my family. Everyone (except for my Father-in-law who wouldn’t touch it) raved about it. In fact, most of the table of 9 asked for seconds.
Butternut Squash Soup with Fall Mushrooms
adapted from Jean-Georges Vongerichten and provided directly by Philippe Reininger, Executive Chef at J&G Steakhouse
makes about 4 servings
For the soup
2 pounds butternut squash, seeded, and cut into chunks away from the rind
4 cups chicken stock (I use low-sodium)
1 ¼ cup creme fraiche (or heavy cream)
2 Tbsp butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sherry (optional)
For the garnish
2 cups black trumpet mushrooms, washed (I used shiitakes)
1 shallot, chopped
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp chives “batonnet” (sticks), chopped
In a large pot, combine the squash and stock and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium and simmer for 20-30 minutes, until the squash is very tender. Let cool. Working in batches, puree the mixture in a blender or food processor. (You may prepare the recipe in advance up to this point; refrigerate in a covered container for up to 2 days.)
Return the puree to the pot over medium-low heat, and add the creme fraiche and butter. Cook, stirring, until heated through (do not boil). Season with salt and pepper to your taste.
Meanwhile, to prepare the garnish, saute shallots in butter for 3-4 minutes over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and saute for about 3-5 minutes, until the mushrooms start to brown slightly.
To serve, pour the soup into bowls and garnish with the mushrooms. Sprinkle with chives. Enjoy!