Butternut Squash Soup With Brown Butter, Sage, Cayenne, And Blue Cheese
A while ago, I made a butternut squash soup recipe with apples. It was light and luxurious, and I truly enjoyed it. Soon after that, facing a butternut squash I had picked up at the Somerville Winter Farmers Market, I came across Thomas Keller's recipe for butternut squash soup in Bouchon and decided to tackle that one too. While the other soup was light and even a little sweet, this soup was heavy, deeply savory, and laced with notes of nutty brown butter.
The soup takes a little advanced planning. It uses both roasted squash and squash simmered with onions and leeks, and it also needs to sit in the fridge overnight before you can finish it with browned butter and make the accompanying fried sage leaves.
While it's meant to be garnished with nutmeg and creme fraiche in addition to the sage, inspired by a warming squash dish at The Lansdowne Pub, I decided to garnish the soup with blue cheese and a dusting of cayenne pepper instead. That's right, those of you who know my aversion to spice, I said cayenne. I used only the teeniest bit, and it imparted a lingering, subtle kick at the end of each bite.
Butternut Squash Soup With Brown Butter, Sage, Cayenne, And Blue Cheese (adapted from Bouchon)
(Print this recipe)
One 3 to 3 1/2 pound squash
2 tablespoons canola oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 sage sprigs
1 cup thinly sliced leeks, white and light green parts only
1/2 cup thinly sliced carrots
1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
1/2 cup thinly sliced onions
6 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
2 tablespoons honey
6 cups vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
A bouquet garni
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Sage leaves, plus canola oil for frying, for garnish
Blue cheese crumbles, for garnish
Cayenne pepper, for dusting
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Cut the neck off the squash, and set it aside. Cut the bulb in half and scoop out and discard the seeds.
Brush each half with some canola oil (about 1 1/2 teaspoons for each half), sprinkle the cavities with salt and pepper, and tuck a sprig of sage into each half.
Place cut side down on the baking sheet, and roast for about 1 hour, until squash is tender.
Scoop out and reserve the flesh.
(I loved this roasting method so much that I plan to use it when making squash just to eat on its own. I never realized simply tucking a sage sprig inside would be enough to flavor all of the flesh.)
Meanwhile, peel the neck of the squash. Cut the flesh into 1/2-inch pieces. (Don't worry if they're not perfect because they'll all be pureed.)
Heat the remaining tablespoon of canola oil in a stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the leeks, carrots, shallots, and onions, and cook, stirring often, for about 6 minutes.
Add the diced squash, garlic, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cook for 3 minutes, and then stir in the honey, and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the stock and bouquet garni, bring to a simmer, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until squash is tender.
Add the roasted squash, and simmer the soup for about 30 minutes more. Remove from the heat and discard the bouquet garni.
Transfer the soup to a blender or food processor, and puree in batches. If you like, strain the soup through a fine-mesh sieve (I skipped this).
Taste the soup, and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Let it cool, and then cover it and refrigerate it overnight.
To finish the soup, reheat it in a pot over low to medium heat.
Then, heat a medium skillet over high heat. When hot, add the butter and swirl the pan around to brown the butter.
Pour the brown butter into the pot of soup, and stir it in.
If garnishing with sage, heat a little bit of canola oil in a skillet, and add the sage leaves when hot, frying them for about 30 seconds per side.
Drain the sage leaves on a paper towel and sprinkle them with salt.
Serve the soup garnished with blue cheese crumbles, cayenne, and sage leaves, if desired.
The sweet squash; pungent onions, leeks, and shallots; creamy but sharp blue cheese; and spicy cayenne made this a perfect winter soup -- a true antidote to the dirt-mingling piles of snow outside.
How do you feel about making different versions of the same dish?