Butternut Walnut Soup with Walnut Parsley Pesto

People! I’m excited to tell you that tonight I’ll be making and serving soup at the Hideout for their weekly Soup and Bread event. Basically a handful of people make huge batches of homemade soup and then hungry Chicagoans come in, donate a few bucks, and get to eat as much soup and bread as they want. All the proceeds go to a different charity each week, so it’s just super awesome all around. I made a Thai Carrot soup last year and had such a good time that I decided to do it again.

This year I decided to make a new recipe of mine, Butternut Walnut Soup. It’s fairly simple and perfect for this time of year. Ok, ok, so it’s 50 degrees today, but on a normal January day it would do just the trick to warm you up. So, even though it’s warmer than usual outside, come to the Hideout tonight and I promise you won’t regret it.

Here’s the event page. Hope to see you there!

Butternut Walnut Soup with Walnut Parsley Pesto

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 yellow onion, diced

5 cups vegetable broth
1 butternut squash, cut into cubes
3/4 cup walnuts
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Chop the butternut squash and place on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Toss in 1 tablespoon olive oil and cover with another sheet of aluminum foil. Let roast in the oven until tender, about 30 minutes.
Once the squash is done, chop the onion and warm the oil on medium heat in a medium sized stock pot. Add onion and sautee until translucent. About 7 minutes. Add garlic and cook one minute longer.
Add broth, then squash and walnuts*. Once the broth is boiling, lower the heat to medium-low and cover. Let simmer until the walnuts are soft, about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the parsley.
Transfer the soup into a blender. Do not fill the blender more than 2/3 the way full. If you do, the soup will go everywhere when you turn on the blender. This may mean you will need to blend it in batches. For this recipe I did three batches in the blender. You want this to be a very creamy, smooth consistency, so start the blender on low and slowly work your way up to high.
Once all the soup is blended, pour it back into the pot and add the milk, nutmeg, salt and pepper.
* I was reading some walnut soup recipes (http://www.graftedwalnuts.co.uk/soup.ihtml#celery) and some recommend that you first blanch the walnuts and then rub them together to remove the skins. You can do that if you prefer to, but the skin on the ones that I had was so thin that I didn’t think it was necessary, and it didn’t seem to alter the consistency of the end product so I don’t think it’s necessary.
Parsley-Walnut Pesto
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
1/2 cup walnuts
3/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
Put everything in a food processor and blend for about 30 seconds. Stir and then pulse several times until everything is incorporated and it is close to a paste but still with small pieces of walnuts (similar to traditional basil pesto)
Spoon one tablespoon pesto on top of each bowl of soup, then EAT!
Also, I’m entering this recipe into a winter soup recipe contest with my friend Matt’s site, Favediets.com. Wish me luck!