Fall is here! (Despite the fact that there was FROST on the ground yesterday morning, and about four inches of snow four hours north of here.....) But fall means squash,warm spices, hearty herbs, and most importantly, soup! Butternut squash soup basically is the quintessential fall soup - am I right? And sage is the quintessential fall herb. Obviously this is why these two are a match made in heaven. And not only does this soup TASTE delicious, but it also makes your kitchen smell like Thanksgiving, which in my book is a win. Yes, yes, I know, it's not even Halloween yet, but I'm just sayin'. One other note - a lot of people make this kind of soup as a "bisque". Frankly, I think that is SACRILEGE. If you do it right, this really needs no dairy whatsoever - no butter, no cream, no nothing. Which in turn makes this absolutely the most delicious healthy soup in the universe. And maybe the easiest. That being said, get off your bum and make some!
Butternut Squash Soup
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and coarsely chopped (about 4 cups)
1 medium sweet onion, roughly chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
2 garlic cloves, smashed
2 stems rosemary
3 sprigs thyme
16 sage leaves
1/2 t red chili flakes
3 T olive oil
2 t salt
1 t fresh ground pepper
2 C chicken stock
Preheat the oven to 350F. Take 5 sage leaves and roughly chop them - set aside the rest. Place all ingredients (minus the chicken stock) into a large roasting pan, and toss with the olive oil, salt, pepper, and the chopped sage leaves. Place into the oven and roast for about 45 minutes, or until the squash is fork tender. Remove the rosemary and thyme.
While the vegetables are roasting, fry up the remaining sage leaves. In a small frying pan, heat up 1/4 cup olive oil over medium-high heat. Get the oil heated, but NOT smoking. When hot, place sage leaves in the oil, in batches - about 4 at a time. Fry until crisp, about 8 seconds (depends on the size of the leaves) - remove with a fork and place on a paper towel. You'll know the leaves are done when they stay stiff when picked up with a fork. Sprinkle the leaves with salt and set aside.
Let's hope you have a VitaMix - really, no other blender holds a candle to this bad boy - it makes soups the consistency of velvet. If you don't have one, it'll still taste just as delicious. Place your roasted ingredients into a blender or food processor - with the motor running, slowly pour in the chicken stock until smooth. If you have an immersion blender, you can also use that - just place the ingredients into a sauce pan. Once the soup is smooth, taste for seasoning. Add more salt and pepper if necessary.
Dependent on what temperature you like your soup, you may want to heat it up a bit more before serving - otherwise you can just plate away! Place about a ladle full in each bowl, and crush some fried sage over top. Grab a spoon and you're good to go!
Let me tell you - this is fall soup in its perfect form. Hearty, warm, and delicious! The fried sage adds the perfect texture to this soup. If you want, you can serve with a crisp slice of baguette that has been toasted with a bit of parmesan on top. The color of this soup is stunning - once again, HELLO FALL! It's the color of the changing leaves, the color of HALLOWEEN, and quite frankly, the color of deliciousness. (Also, beta-carotene, Vitamin A and Vitamin C, but let's not get all scientific here). Oh, and for all you vegetarians out there, you can make this with vegetable stock, NO problem!
No excuses, get these ingredients and make this soup immediately. You will thank me, I promise.