Last week I mentioned that I'd be making Butternut Squash Soup, and indeed I did! This is a soup that I had never even tried until a few months ago... and even though my only experience with it had been the kind out of a V8 box, I've been in love with its smooth texture and sweet flavor since my first sip. I'd been wanting to make my own since the first time I tried it, and I even asked for an immersion blender for Christmas just so I could make my own. Thanks Mom, for obliging me!
Since I'd never made a soup like it before, I searched for a relatively simple recipe. As usual, I settled on a recipe by Giada de Laurentis (my foodnetwork favorite, by far). I was drawn to this one mostly by the list of ingredients... pungent, earthy sage, plenty of garlic, and chicken stock. Many of the other recipes I'd seen called for cream - which I'm trying to avoid these days since my wedding is only 7 months away now - so I was very excited when I discovered that this recipe called for a much lighter yet equally flavorful liquid. And the cream was not missed at all... the soup still turned out sweet and creamy and packed with savory goodness. Somehow it tasted better knowing I didn't need to feel guilty about it. :)
Giada simply cubed the squash and allowed it to cook as the soup boiled, but I opted to roast mine before making the soup. This is, of course, totally optional, but I thought it really brought out the flavor of the squash and added just a little somethin' extra to the dish. The extra step is totally worth it if you have the time.
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
adapted from FoodNetwork.com
For Roasted Squash
1 large butternut squash (about 3 pounds), peeled and seeded and cut into uniform roughly 1" chunks
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons softened butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped into 1/2" pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 recipe roasted squash (see above)
6 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1/4 cup chopped sage leaves, plus extra for serving
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 baguette, cut into 1/2" slices
olive oil for drizzling
3 ounces asiago or other pungent cheese
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place the squash on a sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, and toss well. Arrange squash in a single layer, and roast for 25-30 minutes or until tender, turning once.
2. In an 8-quart soup pot, melt butter and olive oil together over medium-high heat. Add the onion and carrot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft (about 5 minutes). Stir in the garlic and cook until aromatic (about 30 seconds). Add the squash and chicken stock. Bring the mixture to a boil and add the sage. Boil until vegetables are tender (5-10 minutes if using roasted squash, 20 or more if using raw squash). Turn off heat and blend using an immersion blender (Transfer to a sharp- and heat-safe bowl if your cookwear is teflon, like mine is. You can also blend in batches using a counter-top blender if this is all you have.) Season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep warm over low heat.
3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F, if not already warm. Drizzle baguette slices with olive oil and top with cheese, and bake until the cheese has melted and the bread is golden (about 6-8 minutes).
4. To serve, ladle into bowls, top with crostini, and sprinkle with ribbons of fresh sage.