Soup Week Day 2: Bring on the Butternut Squash.
If you’ve read my acorn squash post, you know a little about my foray into cooking with squash. You’d also know that once you get past the initial intimidation, squash is actually not that hard to handle. That comes as a big relief, especially since squash-based dishes are quintessential for Fall.
I’m not kidding when I tell you that this is a genuinely enjoyable soup to make.
Most soups come with a degree of relative ease, but I find this one downright fun to make. Maybe that’s because I am, above all, a food-lover and cooking nerd, but so be it. This soup is perfect to make on an afternoon where you have nothing else to do, nowhere else to be. And when you don’t mind transferring hot soup into a blender in batches for puréeing. (An immersion blender makes this job a little easier, of course, but you catch my drift.)
Also, I don’t know about you, but whenever I see a food blog post a recipe with an incredibly long title, my initial reaction is to worry about how daunting it sounds. With such long titles, some recipes sound more like grocery lists. So, okay, the title of this soup recipe includes a few frills. Allow me to explain, and break it down:
- Balsamic Butternut Squash Soup: I add a splash of balsamic vinegar to the sauteing butternut squash in order to create a rich, bold flavour profile. The balsamic really complements the squash and brings out its earthy flavour.
- Brown Butter Sage Croutons: Brown butter makes everything better – especially croutons! Browning butter is one of those magic cooking tricks that automatically elevates the flavour of anything, from cookies to sauces. In this case, paired with a hint of sage, it also creates a deep, earthy flavour for these croutons. A perfect pairing with this soup!
Hint: Adding a potato to the mix makes this soup creamy once it’s all blended, without having to add any cream!
Hint: Use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock to make this totally vegetarian!
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp butter
- 2 medium yellow onions, roughly chopped
- 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
- 1 russet potato, peeled and cubed
- 2 large cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 3-4 c. low-sodium chicken stock or vegetable stock
- Salt & pepper to taste
- ~2 heaping c. cubed baguette (roughly ½ a regular-sized baguette or 1 small baguette)
- 2-3 tbsp butter
- ½ tsp. ground sage
- A hint of salt and pepper
- In a Dutch oven or large pot, heat the olive oil and butter over medium-low heat.
- Add onions and caramelize for 15-18 minutes, stirring every minute or so to avoid burning.
- While the onions are caramelizing, prepare the squash and potatoes. You want to make sure they are cut into uniformly-sized pieces so they cook more evenly.
- Raise the heat to medium and add the squash, potatoes, and garlic. Sauté for about 5 minutes.
- Add the balsamic and allow another minute or two for the vapour to cook off, leaving you with that concentrated balsamic flavour.
- Cover the veggies with roughly 3 cups of chicken stock. Bring to a simmer and cook until the veggies are fork-tender and blendable, about 18-20 minutes.
- In batches, transfer the soup to a blender and carefully blend - making sure to hold down the lid with a tea towel and pulsing at first. Add the batches of blended soup to a large bowl. Once it's all blended, replace soup in the pot. You can also use an immersion blender for this task, which eliminates the transfer step.
- Over low heat, season with salt and pepper to taste. Add up to one more cup of stock to thin out the soup, as desired.
- Serve with Brown Butter Sage Croutons
- Preheat the oven to 300°
- Place cubed bread on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil
- Toast in the oven for about 10 minutes, to ensure the bread becomes dry and slightly crisp
- In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter, swirling occasionally
- Add the ground sage and swirl
- Leave the saucepan on the heat for about 5-8 minutes, until brown flecks appear at the bottom of the pan and the butter gets aromatic
- Once your butter is browned, remove it from the heat and add a small splash of water, to ensure you stop the cooking process.
- Remove the bread cubes from the oven and place them in a medium bowl. Coat the bread with the brown butter and toss.
- Replace bread cubes on the tray and sprinkle with a hint of salt and pepper.
- Bake in the oven for another 10 minutes, or leave under the broiler for another 3-5, until the croutons are golden brown and toasty.