Autumn is in full bloom, and as the days shorten I find myself ready to welcome this fruitful season. A recent trip to the farmers market had me thinking of root vegetables, soups, stews and all the comforting food this time of year brings us. It is time to get cozy, make a fire, open a good bottle of red wine, and enjoy spending time in one of my favorite places, The Kitchen…
And who could resist all the beautiful varieties of squash at the market ?
One of my favorite growers Ann showcases the most vibrant and delicious butternut squash. There is only one thing to do, and that is to go home and make a soup.
This recipe was inspired by Thomas Keller’s Butternut Squash soup at Bouchon In Yountville Ca.
An amazing first course for your Thanksgiving feast
Butternut Squash Soup With Brown Butter and Creme Fraiche
1 3-to-3 1/2-pound butternut squash
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup thinly sliced leeks
1/2 cup thinly sliced carrots
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper -2 sprigs sage
1/2 cup thinly sliced shallot
1/2 cup thinly sliced onions
6 garlic cloves, smashed
2 tablespoons honey
6 cups vegetable stock, more if needed
Bouquet Garni made of 8 sprigs thyme, 2 sprigs Italian parsley,
2 bay leaves and 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns, all wrapped in a
packet made of 2 green leek leaves
1/4 cup creme fraiche
Freshly grated nutmeg
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon minced chives
Extra-virgin olive oil.
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a small 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 seeds. Brush each half inside and out with about 1 1/2 teaspoons of the canola oil. Sprinkle the cavities with salt and pepper and tuck a sprig of sage into each. Place cut-side-down on the baking sheet and roast until completely tender, about 1 hour. Remove the squash from the oven and let cool, then scoop out and reserve the flesh (discard sage).
2. Meanwhile, using a paring knife, peel away the skin from the neck of the squash until you reach the bright orange flesh. Cut the flesh into 1/2-inch pieces (you should have about 4 cups).
3. Put the remaining 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 and cook gently for 3 minutes, reducing the heat as necessary to keep the garlic and squash from coloring. Stir in the honey and cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the stock and bouquet garni, bring to a simmer and cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until the squash is tender.
4. Add the roasted squash and simmer gently for about 30 minutes for the flavors to blend. Remove from the heat and discard the bouquet garni. Transfer the soup to a blender, in batches, and puree. Strain the soup through a fine sieve into a bowl. Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning. Let the soup cool, then refrigerate until ready to serve.
5. Place the creme fraiche in a small chilled bowl and stir in nutmeg to taste. Whisk until the creme fraiche holds a shape. Cover and refrigerate.
6. Gently reheat the soup until just hot. If it is too thick, add a little more vegetable stock. Heat a medium skillet over high heat. When it is very hot, add the butter and rotate the skillet over the heat as necessary to brown the butter evenly, scraping up any bits that settle in the bottom. As soon as the butter is a hazelnut brown, pour it into the pot of soup — keep a safe distance, it may sputter — then stir.
7. Ladle the soup into six serving bowls. Top each with a dollop of creme fraiche, tiny cubes of granny smith apples and toasted walnuts. Grind some black pepper over the top and sprinkle on the chives. Drizzle a little good olive oil over the top. Serves 6