With the extremely frigid temperatures, snow, slush, rain and many of us feeling under the weather, one of the best ways to warm up is a great homemade soup. Butternut squash can easily be found in the markets in the winter and the pears in this recipe give it significant depth. This recipe makes enough for about 8-10 servings and is great to freeze for another cold day, but we are hoping these are the last few this winter.
- 4lbs butternut squash
- 4 tablespoons hazelnut oil
- 3 tablespoons avocado oil (can substitute grape seed oil)
- 1 onion, chopped finely
- 2 pears, pealed and diced into 1 inch pieces
- 4-8 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- bouquet garni: 6 sprigs of thyme, 4 bay leaves, 2 smashed garlic cloves, 1/4 cup Italian parsley, 1 teaspoon crushed black peppercorns
- 6 fresh sage leaves
- french baguette
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Sea salt (to taste)
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley
- crushed hazelnuts
- 6oz creme fraîche
Slice the butternut squash in half lengthwise and drizzle flesh with hazelnut oil. Place face down on baking sheets and bake at 400°F for 30 minutes to 1 hour, until a fork can pierce through entirely. Once the squash has been cooked, allow to cool while you prep the rest of the soup and garnishes.
Chop one small onion and dice 2 pears into 1 inch cubes. Prepare the bouquet garni by placing 6 sprigs of thyme, 4 bay leaves, 2 smashed garlic cloves, 1/4 cup Italian parsley, and 1 teaspoon crushed black peppercorns into a cheesecloth and tie with string.
Cube the baguette into crouton sized pieces and place in a baking pan. Chop 1/2 cup parsley and add to the croutons. Drizzle with olive oil and season with sea salt, about 2 teaspoons should be sufficient. Put the croutons in a 375°F oven for about 10-15 minutes. Keep a keen eye on them because they will begin to burn and will do so very quickly.
At this point the butternut squash should have cooled enough to be able to hand with your hands. Remove the skin by either peeling it from the flesh or scooping the flesh out of the skin. If it seems to be very mushy, just set aside until you are ready to add it to the soup. If it is still slightly firm, cut into 1-2 inch cubes and set aside.
Heat the avocado oil in a large pot and then add the onions. Allow the onions to cook for about 5-7 minutes, then add the 2 diced pears, all of the squash, 4 cups of stock, and the bouquet garni. Reserve the 6 fresh sage leaves for the very end as well as the other 4 cups of stock. Allow the mixture to come to a simmer and cook for 1 hour.
While the soup is cooking toast the hazelnuts in the oven, which should take about 5 minutes. These will burn very quickly so stand by the oven and watch them carefully.
Once the soup has cooked for an hour, add the sage leaves and allow to cook for another 5-10 minutes. Then emulsify with a hand blender (keep in mind you are working with a very hot liquid). When you have created a very smooth consistency, add stock slowly in order to thin out the soup to your desired consistency. As you may have noticed, there is no added salt to this soup. This is because the croutons, which are seasoned with sea salt, tend to be on the salty side. This garnish add the perfect amount of salt to the soup and enhances the flavor.
Serve with a dollop of creme fraîche, sprinkles of toasted hazelnuts and some sea salt parsley croutons. Some people might prefer sour cream over creme fraîche, however, I find that for soups creme fraîche will melt more easily and really incorporate into the soup due to its higher fat content as opposed to sour cream. This is because sour cream is made from milk, while creme fraîche is made from heavy cream. As a result it melts and incorporates better instead of separating when working into hot liquids.
I hope this soup really warms you to the bones!
Follow your tummy…