in an effort (however non-effective, at least it's earnest) to try to reduce the gluttonous impact my recent omnivorous ways have been taking on my body, i'm devoting one night a week to making soup for dinner. last week's was pasta e fagioli. yes, i know soup doesn't necessarily mean "healthier", but it at least feels healthier, so i tell myself.
we had a butternut languishing on our counter and fresh chicken stock (yes, i'm in love with homemade chicken stock) waiting in the fridge. some of my favorite soups come from, of course, ms. madison. so we decided to try this simple sounding squash soup with sage leaves.
i was worried without some beans or pasta or dare i say, meat, i wouldn't feel full from this soup. but coupled with a crunchy greens salad and some baguette, it was a perfect dinner. it was so flavorful, and like always, was better the next night. i even had the last bit for lunch yesterday and i still loved it. yes, that bears repeating ... i ate this soup three days out of this week and still loved it on the third day!!
so what are you waiting for?
winter squash soup with sage leaves: serves 4-6
from vegetarian cooking for everyone (1997, p. 215)
2 1/2 - 3 lbs winter squash
1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra for squash
6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
12 whole sage leaves, plus 2 tb chopped
2 onions, finely chopped
4 thyme sprigs, chopped
1/4 cup chopped parsley
salt + pepper
2 quarts homemade stock (be it vegetable or chicken, but please be it homemade!)
1/2 cup fontina, pecorino, or ricotta salata, diced into small cubes
1. preheat oven to 375F. halve squash and scoop out seeds. brush surface with oil, stuff cavaties with garlic and place cut sides down on baking sheet. bake until tender, about 30 minutes.
2. meanwhile heat 1/4 cup oil in small skillet until nearly smoking, then drop whole sage leaves and fry until dark, about 1 minute. set leaves aside on paper towel and transfer oil to wide soup pot. add onions, chopped sage, thyme, and parsley and cook over medium heat until onions have begun to brown, about 12-15 minutes.
3. scoop squash flesh into pot along with any juices that accumulated in the pan. peel the garlic and add to pot along with salt and stock and bring to boil. lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 25 minutes. if soup becomes too thick, simply add more water/stock to thin it out. taste for salt.
4. depending on the type of squash you've used, the soup with be smooth or rough. if you want a refined soup, use a handmixer or blender. if you mix it, you might want to heat it up a bit again. then ladle into bowls and distribute cheese over top (the cheese adds a contrast flavor to the sweetness of the squash, so yes, it's necessary!) garnish with sage leaves, add pepper, and enjoy!