Sage and Butternut Squash Soup

It’s incredible how time flies when you’re having fun and when you aren’t.  It’s been over 2 weeks and we have not posted a single recipe.  We were eating a lot of boxed macaroni, tuna sandwiches and boxes of Thai, Chinese and pizza while going in and out of vet appointments since we got back from our wonderful camping trip.  One week ago today we lost our little Lila to Lymphoma, she was a sweet cuddly 5 year old cat, and we will never forget her.  A great friend of mine said to me, “cooking is therapy”, and it really is.  To get involved with the methods and timing and repetition of preparing a homemade meal, takes focus and meditation.  You can get lost in the tastes and smells and the anticipation of the final product.  So, this weekend we finally pulled out our books, made a list and went grocery shopping.  We cooked up lots of fall favorites, Warm Apple Slaw with Sage Pork Chops… Apple Pecan Muffins…. Pasta… and this gem of a recipe from Jamie Oliver.  We love to use fresh butternut squash and it is so simple to make it in to a hearty soup that will warm you up and make you feel happy when you might be feeling down.  Shorter days can do that to you, so have a toast ( or crouton) to Lila and remember that cooking is good for your soul, enjoy it with those you love….
superb squash soup with the best parmesan croutons ( gotta love his recipe titles!)

adapted from Jamie Oliver
serves 5-6

ingredients

olive oil
8 fresh sage leaves
1 red onion, peeled and chopped
2 sticks of celery, trimmed and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
1 sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves picked
½–1 fresh red chilli, to taste, deseeded and finely chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2.5 lbs  butternut squash, halved, deseeded and cut into chunks ( no need to peel)
38 ounces good-quality chicken or vegetable stock
extra virgin olive oil

for the croutons

extra virgin olive oil
16 slices of ciabatta bread
a block of Parmesan cheese, for grating

Put a very large saucepan on a medium heat and pour in a glug ( 2-3 Tablespoons) of olive oil. Add the sage leaves and fry for around 30 seconds or until dark green and crisp. Quickly remove them with a slotted spoon to a bowl lined with kitchen paper – you’ll use these for sprinkling over at the end. In the pan you’ll be left with a beautifully flavoured oil, so put it back on the heat and throw in your onion, celery, carrot, garlic, rosemary leaves, chilli and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Cook gently for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are sweet and soft. Add the squash and the stock to the pan, bring to the boil and simmer for around half an hour.

While the soup is cooking, make your croutons. Drizzle a little olive oil over the ciabatta slices, pat it in and press some grated Parmesan on to each side. Place in a non-stick pan without any oil and fry until golden on both sides.

When the squash is soft and cooked through, whiz the soup with a hand blender or pour it into a liquidizer and pulse until you have a smooth purée (but you can leave it slightly chunky if you like). Most importantly, remember to taste and season it until it’s perfect. Divide the soup between your bowls, placing 2 croutons on top of each. Sprinkle with a few of your crispy sage leaves and drizzle with a swirl of good-quality extra virgin olive oil.

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