It’s winter in California which means it’s 60 degrees and sunny, but for all of us Californians it’s freezing. We’re cold. Very cold. We talk about it a lot and dream of early March when temperatures will hit the 70s again. It’s truly miserable here on the west coast. Pity us. Sure the east coast may get blizzards and snow, but we have days in the 50s! It’s real extreme, y’all!
Anyways, this cold spell has me drinking tea like a fish drinks water (constantly) and dreaming of soup. Because tea and soup are the only things that can warm my frozen
heart fingers. My friend Katharine came to visit for a few days in late January. We’ve known each other since my sophomore year of college, fenced together on a varsity team, and then I basically lived at her house my senior year. We’ve spent a bit time together, you could say. While she was here we thought about going out drinking and dancing, but it was raining sprinkling and that seemed like so much unnecessary effort. Instead we hit up Berkeley Bowl (my home away from home! ❤ ) Berkeley Bowl is an institution here in the East Bay. Did you know Michael Pollan shops there?! I have friends who’ve seen him. I’ve read all of his books. I agree with everything he says. He’s pretty much my religion. BRB I’ll just be camping out in the produce section for the next month. I’m totally not a stalker, I’m just completely obsessed with him. There’s a difference, okay?!
Anywho, Katharine and I decided to make some butternut squash soup. I’d been craving it lately and it seemed like the perfect season. When we arrived at Berkeley Bowl, right out front was a pile of the organic gourds all on sale. Score! We headed home, made our soup, and contentedly watched Netflix for the remainder of our evening. She’s my friend match-made-in-heaven I tell you. Anyone who wants to stay in on a weekend is my kind of gal!
Our soup came out wonderfully. It is incredibly butternut squash-y. That sounds silly, but somehow the soup made the butternut squash taste amazingly like itself and oh so good. The flavor is very pure and not disguised by any ingredient. It’s a very thick soup, perfect for an entree, though you could thin it a bit if you wanted to serve it as an appetizer.
Thick Butternut Squash Soup with Sage
Serves four to six.
Vegan, Gluten Free
3.5 lbs organic butternut squash (one medium and one small squash)
1 organic red onion
1 organic carrot
1/2 organic white onion
3 organic stalks celery
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch organic fresh sage
1 quart organic vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon organic thyme
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
cooking oil as needed
First pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, start making a mirepoix. Chop the celery, white onion, and carrot finely into pieces no larger than 1/2 inch. Place into a hot cast iron pan or an enameled cast iron dutch oven with a tablespoon and a half of olive oil. Add thyme, nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon paprika, and a few pinches each of salt and pepper. Cook, covered, over low to medium heat, stirring occasionally. You want the entire thing to sweat.
While that starts to get flavorful, begin cutting your butternut squash and red onion into pieces about an inch wide. Place the squash and onions on two cookie sheets (careful not to crowd) and sprinkle with the remaining olive oil, a dash of salt, a liberal amount of pepper, and the remaining paprika. Place the the sheets in the oven for 20 to 25 mins or until a fork can be inserted into the squash without resistance. When they’re done they should look a little toasted. The squash should be a bright orange and the onions should be a faded purple-y brown.
When they squash and red onion is done, leave to rest and turn of the oven. Uncover the mirepoix (you should have been stirring every now and then this entire time). If you’ve been using a cast iron pan, it’s time to get out a large stock pot and add the liquid. You should be able to just add water to the mirepoix, but I had a container of vegetable broth that I wanted to use, so I added this instead. If you are adding plain water be sure you have liberally salted the mirepoix. Add the roasted butternut squash and red onion to your pot and stir. Everything should be cooked at this point, but bring everything to a boil to let the flavors intermingle. Once it’s boiled reduce to low heat.
I fried my sage to make it more exciting. Take a small pot or sauce pan and add about an inch of oil. Remove sage leaves from stems. When your oil is quite hot gently toss in sage leaves one at a time. They should fizzle in the oil, when the cease to fizzle, count to ten before removing them and placing the fried leaves on a clean towel. The leaves should brown in the oil. When you’ve fried each leaf, turn your attention back to the soup.
Now for my favorite part! Your soup should be looking like this:
It’s perfectly edible and delicious this way, but I am a huge fan of a much smoother texture. Which leads me to my favorite kitchen tool – the IMMERSION BLENDER! I love immersion blending things! It’s literally the most fun thing ever invented. You can blend a smoothie in it’s cup! You can blend soups in the pot! We’ll do the latter. Get out your immersion blender and go. to. town. It’s delightful! Once your soup is good and blended you’ll be able to truly tell how thick this soup really is. If it’s too think for your liking, now is a good point to add water or vegetable stock to the thin it down. Just simply stir it in. I didn’t feel this was necessary, because the soup was to be my entree and hey, I like a thick soup!
Now, crumble the majority of your sage into your soup and stir it in. Be sure to save a bit for garnish!
Serve and enjoy!
Have you made soup recently? Waiting out the cold weather with hot liquids? Live somewhere warm and want to let me crash on your couch for two months? Let me know!