Creamy Butternut Squash Soup
serves 6-8 total time 2-2.5 hours
1. Wash and peel butternut squash and scoop out the pulp and seeds (rinse seeds and set aside for roasting, if desired. Be careful, they pop!) Cube butternut squash into rough ½ inch pieces and set aside into a large bowl.
2. Wash and peel sweet potato, cube into ½ inch pieces, and add 1 cup to the bowl along with the butternut squash.
3. Peel, core and cube the apple and the pear, and set aside into a separate bowl.
4. Dice the onion and celery, slice the leek and set these aside into a third bowl.
5. Heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in the braiser until just bubbling. Turn the heat down to medium and add the celery, leek and onion to the braiser along with the sage leaves. Sauté for 4-5 minutes.
6. Turn the heat up to medium-high Add to the braiser the cubed squash and sweet potato, 1 heaping teaspoon of nutmeg and a large pinch of salt. Sauté for 10 minutes on medium high. Stirring only occasionally. It is okay to have little bits of food stuck to the bottom of the pan; in fact, you want those (in French those little bits are called sucre de cuisson, which translates literally into to cooking sugar, but really means the delicious little morsels that will caramelize into something with a delightful depth of flavor once the pan is deglazed.)
7. Add the apple and pear and continue to sauté, stirring occasionally, for another 10-15 minutes.
8. Deglaze the pan with ¾ cup of stock – using ¼ a cup at a time – making sure to scrape up all the sucre de cuisson. Carefully transfer the soup to the stock pot.
9. Add the rest of the chicken stock to the pot, bring to a boil, reduce and simmer for 5-15 minutes or until the squash and sweet potato are fork tender. (The timing for this step is really going to depend on how long you sautéed your ingredients.)
10. Blend thoroughly. Slowly pour in 1 cup of cream stirring continuously until it is fully incorporated. Do the same with the remaining 2 tbs of butter. Add salt, freshly ground black pepper and ground nutmeg, to taste.
NOTES: This soup pairs well with grilled cheese and can be topped with toasted hazelnuts and a bit of hazelnut oil, or a generous dollop of crème fraiche and little pieces of bacon.