superb squash soup and ciabatta croutons
I’ve been trying to buy food that is in season. The grocery stores don’t really believe in this. They have mangoes and bananas and asparagus galore, but nary a squash in sight. Isn’t squash a harvest of the fall?
Anyhow, I managed to find some lonely butternut squash at the Italian Centre. Thanks to Jamie Oliver, I made his superb squash soup with a couple of variations. First I halved the recipe. Then I added 1 cup of whipping cream to it.
The squash was a bitch to cut up. After Ella and I were done, it looked like a squash had been murdered in my kitchen. I put too-hot soup in the blender, couldn’t contain the lid, and exploded squash soup all over my kitchen (and my poor wrist. Which is blistered and bandaged up). I do these things because I am a kitchen dork.
It was a delightful soup. All soft and creamy with the tartness of the sage and spice of the red chili pepper. The ciabatti croutons were so freaking good that we were considering frying up a whole other loaf of ciabatta, mid meal. (We contained our piggyness for another time).
Superb Squash Soup and Ciabatta Croutons
–from Jamie Oliver on the Food Network website
8 fresh sage leaves
1 red onion, chopped
1 stick celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves picked
1/2 fresh red chile, to taste, seeded and finely chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds butternut squash, halved, deseeded and cut into chunks
1 litre chicken stock
1 cup whipping cream
For the croutons:
Extra-virgin olive oil
8 slices ciabatta bread
1 chunk Parmesan, for grating
Put a pasta pot on a medium heat and pour in olive oil to cover the bottom.
Add the sage leaves and fry for around 30 seconds. Quickly remove them with a slotted spoon to a bowl lined with paper towels – you’ll use these for sprinkling over at the end.
Throw the onion, celery, carrot, garlic, rosemary leaves, chile and a good pinch of salt and pepper in the pot. Cook gently for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are sweet and soft. Add the squash, stock and cream to the pan, bring to the boil and simmer for around 30 minutes.
While the soup is cooking, make your croutons. Drizzle a little olive oil over the ciabatta slices, and press some grated Parmesan onto 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 an immersion blender or pour it into a standard blender and pulse until you have a smooth puree (but you can leave it slightly chunky if you like).
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.
Food Network wisely adds this caution. Why oh why didn’t I find this version of the on-line recipe?
*When blending hot liquids: Remove liquid from the heat and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes. Transfer liquid to a blender or food processor and fill it no more than halfway. If using a blender, release one corner of the lid. This prevents the vacuum effect that creates heat explosions. Place a towel over the top of the machine, pulse a few times then process on high speed until smooth.