When a waiter presents me with something free and then says “compliments of the chef”….I blush. I lift my feet up in the air (under the table of course), duck my head a bit, grin like a fool, start clapping as subtly as if I were praying…and make funny little noises of delight. This causes the waiter to cock his eyebrow and whomever I’m dining with to clear their throats. To me, a “compliment of the chef” is kinda like the chef taking off their apron and giving me a big bear hug. Love and nurturing is fine be me.
Really? For me? Free? Did the chef make this especially for us? You see, I am a cheap date. I never order an appetizer, beverage or dessert. Just the main course please….and yes I will clear my plate. Call me neurotic, but I can’t handle paying 10 bucks for an itty bitty starter salad. So, that’s the plan I stuck to when I went to the amazing John’s Restaurant. This place is so so so good. If you are in Boulder, have 30 bucks in your wallet and want to dine at a cute little place…you have to go! Lots of classics done just right. Super fresh and mostly local. I got swordfish smothered in black olive tempenade, which completely enlivened my taste buds. I had to socialize with my friends during the meal, but my real instinct was to close my eyes and moan.
Then they started bringing us the “compliments of the chef.” Little bites of pomegranate sorbet, tiny tastes of cheeses. Out of nowhere white bowls were placed in front of us and a few brilliant dried cranberries were dramatically sprinkled into each awaiting nook. I peered down at the smiling little nuggets, wondering what the plan was. Then the ladle gracefully swooped in, pouring a lovely orange broth over their red little heads, pushing them up to surface so that they could laugh a little more.
If the chef had intended to make an impression on us….hopefully he heard my round of applause. I sipped the broth and instantly knew I had to recreate everything about this experience at home. Light, thin, smooth butternut squash soup with a hint of cinnamon. The texture and tang of the sparse cranberries added an incredible zing. I sweetly asked the waiter what was in it. He fell into my trap, divulged secrets…..and now I bring you my version.
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
2 Pound Butternut Squash
2 1/2 – 3 Cups Chicken Broth
6 Cloves Roasted Garlic
1/2 Yellow Or Red Onion Chopped
1 Tablespoon or more Ground Cumin
1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Coriander
1/4 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1 Tablespoon Honey
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
Lots of salt and pepper to taste
Cut your squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Lightly coat all sides in olive oil and lay cut side down on a sheet tray…and stab it a few times. Bake at 425 degrees for 30-45 minutes…or until it is super easiy to insert a fork into it! During the last 20 minutes of cooking, pop the garlic in the oven to roast. Here are some easy directions for that!
While allowing the squash to cool a bit, saute your chopped onion in olive oil until translucent, about 10 minutes on medium low.
Scrape the flesh of the squash from the skin. Pull 6 cloves of garlic from their hiding places. In batches, puree the squash, onion, and roasted garlic…..adding broth as you need to thin it out. Try to get it as smooth as possible. Add all pureed goodies to a pot. Add the rest of your broth, honey and spices. Heat it up to simmering for about 10 minutes. Sip and salt. You want it a little bit sweeter? Add more honey. You like more spice?…toss in some extra cayenne and cumin.
Sprinkle a few cranberries in a bowl, pour the broth on top and yell “Compliments of the chef!!!!”