Butternut Squash Soup

By Beacon Staff

If you are looking for a delicious dish to kick off the start of autumn, this soup is spectacular.

A combination of roasted and sautéed butternut squash, onions and carrots cooked in a vegetable stock then pureed for a soup creates a hearty, slightly thicker and more substantial texture than a creamed soup.

The addition of sage, nutmeg, crème fraiche, honey and walnut oil provides additional flavors that are festive for the fall season.

The key is to prepare this soup a day or two before enjoying so the sweetness of the squash reaches its peak.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

  • One 3 to 3-1/2 pound butternut squash
  • 2 tbsp. sunflower oil
  • 2 sage sprigs
  • 1 cup leeks (1/8 inch) white and lightly green parts only, thinly cut
  • 1/2 cup carrots (1/8 inch), thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup shallots (1/8 inch), thinly cut
  • 1/2 cup onions (1/8 inch), thinly cut
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cups crème fraiche (recipe to follow)
  • Nutmeg, freshly grated
  • 12 sage leaves
  • walnut oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp. of plain yogurt
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 fresh lemon juice
  • Bouquet of garni (three pieces of dark green leek leaves, washed; eight thyme sprigs; two Italian parsley sprigs, two bay leaves; and 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorn). To prepare the bouquet, lay out leaks. Place herbs and peppercorns on top. Wrap in remaining leaves to form circular bundle. Tie securely with kitchen twine in at least three places.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a small baking sheet with aluminum foil. Cut off squash neck and set aside.

Cut bulb in half.

Scoop out seeds.

Brush each half inside and out with 1-1/2 teaspoons sunflower oil.

Sprinkle each half with salt and pepper and 1 sprig of sage.

Place cut side down on sheet pan. Roast approximately one hour or until flesh is tender. Set aside and let squash cool.

Scoop out flesh into a bowl and remove sage.

Meanwhile, use sharp paring knife or vegetable peeler to peel away skin from the neck part of squash until reaching bright orange part of the flesh. Cut flesh into 1/2-inch cubes. You should have about 3-4 cups of diced squash.

Heat remaining sunflower oil in a stock pot over medium. Add leeks, carrots, shallots and onions.

Cook approximately 10 minutes. Stir often. Add diced squash and garlic. Cook for three minutes.

Reduce heat if necessary to avoid discoloring squash. Add honey and stir for two to three minutes.

Add broth and bouquet of garni. Bring to simmer. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes until squash is tender. Add roasted squash. Simmer for another 30 minutes.

Remove bouquet of garni. Transfer soup to blender in batches, and puree. Use fine strainer to strain puree into container.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remember that the soup will sit overnight, intensifying the flavors.

Prepare crème fraiche by whipping together yogurt, buttermilk, heavy crème and lemon juice in a stainless steel bowl.

Cover with plastic wrap and poke a few holes. Allow it to sit in room temperature for two days to create fermentation. Whip once more and refrigerate.

To complete, whip nutmeg into chilled crème fraiche until it holds its shape. Cover and refrigerate.

Reheat soup. If it is too thick, add a little more warm vegetable stock.

In a medium size pan over a high heat, add butter while constantly stirring until it begins to turn hazelnut brown. Immediately remove from heat and add to soup.

Place sage leaves in a pan coated with hot sunflower oil. After the leaves become crisp in a matter of seconds, remove and place on paper towel. Sprinkle with salt.

Ladle soup into bowls. Top each with a dollop of crème fraiche.

Grind black pepper over top.

Garnish each with 2 leaves of sage leaves and some minced chives.

Drizzle walnut oil over top.