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LifestyleColumnists

Easy butternut squash soup recipe

Dairy-free butternut squash soup gets creamy richness from

Dairy-free butternut squash soup gets creamy richness from rice milk.  Credit: Marge Perry

"I have a fun idea — let’s peel and cut up squash," said no one, ever.

News flash: you can avoid the whole annoying peeling business entirely and make a beautiful (and wondrously simple) fresh butternut squash soup. The trick is to roast the squash first, then scoop out the soft flesh with a spoon.

There is a trick to cutting squash in half. For one thing, don’t try to saw your way through, and don’t use force. Use a little finesse and patience. Start by scoring a line with your knife at the top of the squash where you want the cut to be. Rest your knife in that small groove, then rock it or the squash back and forth, applying a small amount of pressure. You will see progress — the groove will deepen. Don’t take this as a sign to start cutting or your knife will likely get jammed in the slot. Keep gently but firmly rocking, and when you get a little way in, it will get easier. Once you’ve cut all the way through, simply scoop out the seeds with a spoon and you are ready to roast the squash. (Which, by the way, you can do a day or two in advance of making the soup.)

We’ve made this dairy free by using rice milk rather than cow’s milk: feel free to use whatever your milk of choice is … oatmeal, almond, cashew.

Butternut squash can vary in its water content: use as much or little broth as you need to bring it to the desired consistency.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP

1 medium butternut squash, about 2 1/4 pounds, halved lengthwise and seeded

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)

1 medium carrot, chopped

1 celery stalk, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups unsalted vegetable broth

3/4 cup rice milk

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Coat a sheet pan with cooking spray.

2. Lightly brush the cut sides of the squash with a little of the oil and place each half, cut side down, on the prepared sheet pan. Roast until the squash is tender and easily pierced with a toothpick, about 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool 5 minutes. Use a spoon to scoop the flesh from the shell.

3. Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic; cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are softened, about 7 to 8 minutes. Add the butternut squash, broth, rice milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool 10 minutes.

4. Puree the soup in a blender in 2 to 3 batches. Return to the Dutch oven and rewarm over medium heat. Makes 4 servings

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