Serves 10 (serving size: about 1 1/3 cups, about 2 teaspoons pomegranate arils, and about 1 teaspoon cilantro)
Photo: Randy Mayor; Styling: Claire Spollen
4 pounds whole butternut squash
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
7 cups water
1/2 teaspoon whole allspice
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
6 thyme sprigs
3 whole cloves
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
1 star anise pod
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 cup pomegranate arils
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
How to Make It
Peel and seed squash, reserving peels, trimmings, and seeds. Cube peeled and seeded squash. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil; swirl to coat. Add squash scraps; sauté 8 minutes or until lightly browned. Add 7 cups water, allspice, and next 5 ingredients (through anise). Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 45 minutes. Strain mixture into a large bowl; discard solids.
Wipe pan clean with paper towels; heat over medium heat. Add remaining 3 tablespoons oil and onion; cover and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cubed squash; cover and cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add reserved broth and salt; bring to a boil. Cover and simmer 40 minutes or until squash is very tender.
Place half of squash mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Pour into a large bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining squash mixture. Stir in vinegar and red pepper. Ladle soup into shallow bowls. Top evenly with pomegranate and cilantro.
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This doesn't come close to Velvety Squash Soup, which is great. I thought it was just average; even reviewed the ingredients to make sure I didn't forget anything because of the great reviews it received. Too much work to bother trying again. Had high hopes, but did learn how to open a pomegrante.
I was actually surprised at how creamy this turned out not having any milk or cream in it. And it was very flavorful. DH did not like the pomegranate arils in it at all, but I thought it was unique and made the presentation prettier. I doubt I'd make this often as it is somewhat time consuming but all in all, it was very good. I'm so happy to have an immersion blender which made it a tad bit easier.