As I sit here with a kitty purring on my lap, a very tired toddler taking a long afternoon nap, hot cocoa steaming in front of me and a candy cane to dunk in it, I feel perfectly wintery. It’s that time of year where I have choice… I can either let the grey, dreary days get to me, or I can embrace them. I choose to make the best of these winter days by working on little sewing projects, spritzing our clean sheets with summery lavender oil, and cooking the most satisfying dinners. With this pregnancy in full swing I have to admit that I’ve had a hard time with breakfast and lunch… dinner has my heart. By the time dinner comes around it’s usually dark out and, if I’m being totally honest here, I’m usually in my pajamas. This soup is one of those dinners that makes the whole house smell perfectly cozy and inviting. The butternut squash and garlic roast for an hour in the oven sending the smell of caramelized veggies into every room of the house, and the heat from the oven makes the kitchen and dining room extra warm. A big bowl of Roasted Butternut Squash Soup and a thick slice of toast is just the thing to prepare you for an evening of watching Harry Potter on the couch.
ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP WITH BROWN BUTTER AND FRIED SAGE
2.5lbs butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
extra virgin olive oil
1 head garlic
freshly ground black pepper
1 yellow onion, diced
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
5 fresh sage leaves (plus more for garnishing)
2 quarts low-sodium vegetable broth
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Slice of the top 1/3 of your head of garlic, exposing the tops of the cloves. Place the head (exposed cloves up) on a square of aluminum foil. Pour a few tablespoons of olive oil over the head, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper. Seal the head in the foil pouch and set it in the corner of a large cookie sheet.
In a large bowl combine the cubed squash, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 tsp of salt, 1/2 tsp of freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of nutmeg. Toss until the squash is well coated in oil. Transfer to the cookie sheet and spread into a single layer. Place the cookie sheet in the oven and roast the squash and garlic, tossing the squash occasionally until the squash is caramelized. Remove the garlic at 1 hour, open the foil and check that it’s nice and golden. Let it cool, or if needed return it to the oven for a few more minutes. The squash usually takes 1-1 1/2 hours. When the squash is caramelized remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow it to cool. Remove the roasted cloves of garlic from the head and set aside in a small bowl.
Meanwhile, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large stockpot over medium high heat. Toss in the onion and carrot, season with a pinch of salt and pepper, and sauté for 5-7 minutes until soft. Toss in five chopped sage leaves and stir for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant. Pour in the vegetable broth, the roasted squash, and the roasted garlic cloves. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes.
While the soup is simmering you can prepare the brown butter. Take 1/2 stick of butter and in a small sauté pan, over medium-low heat, gently melt the butter, stirring constantly. It will begin to foam. Continue stirring. The foam will subside leaving you with separated butter. It will look perfectly clear. Continue to stir. The butter will begin to foam up again and will quickly begin to turn a toasty brown color. When it smells amazing and turns a beautiful golden brown hue, quickly transfer the butter to small bowl and set aside.
Wipe the pan clean with a damp paper towel. Pour in 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil and heat until shimmering. Gently place in a few leaves at a time and allow to fry for 10-15 seconds. You don’t want them to brown! Remove using tongs and set on a paper towel to drain. Repeat with the remaining garnish leaves. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and set aside.
By now your soup should be ready to blend. Using an immersion blender purée the soup until smooth. If you don’t have an immersion blender, transfer the soup in batches to blender and purée until smooth. Leave the plug off, covering the whole on the top with a thickly folded towel. This allows some of the steam to escape so you’re not created any pressure.
Finally, transfer the soup to large bowls, top with a drizzle of brown butter and a few fried sage leaves. Serve immediately with a crunchy slice of toast.
ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP