Sensational Soups: Roasted Butternut Squash Chowder with Sage Butter
As we move into these chilly fall and winter months, there’s nothing I love more than brewing up a big pot of homemade soup. The herby aroma wafting through the house, the steam warming up the kitchen, the inevitable leftovers…ah! It’s the best. So it’s no surprise I volunteered to review 300 Sensational Soups, a new cookbook by Carla Snyder and Meredith Deeds. If one pot of soup is good, 300 is excellent!
This extremely comprehensive book is full of winter cooking inspiration. While it would be easy to phone in some recipes in a cookbook this large, Sensational Soups os written with thoroughness and creativity. It starts out with a section on how to make your own stocks from scratch, then goes into chapters on a variety of soup categories such as chilled, garden vegetable, chowder, fish and shellfish, and cheese (a whole section purely about cheese-based soups?! I’m into!) The collection wraps up with a section on toppings and garnishes (which includes glorious ideas like grilled cheese croutons and maple cream). Truly something for everyone!
I had difficulty selecting just one recipe to review for this post, but I finally narrowed it down to chowder, one of my favorite soup subsets (soupsets?) I ended up going with the butternut squash chowder because it includes one of my favorite garnishes ever—fried sage leaves! My dining companions all agreed that drizzling the frying butter with the sage leaves on top was a major game changer. I also love how the recipe uses mashed squash to add thickness and texture instead of a massive amount of cream (although, don’t worry, there’s still a healthy amount of cream involved).
This soup was so comforting, so rich and velvety, and so flavorful! I will say that I made a few changes to the recipe—as with basically every soup, I doubled the recommended amount of spices, salt, and pepper. I also added an extra few squeezes of lemon. Oh, and clearly this chowder was begging for a sprinkle of cheese on top, so I grated up some nutty aged parmesan for garnish alongside the sage leaves and butter drizzle. I also highly condone serving with a hunk of crusty sourdough bread.
Roasted Butternut Squash Chowder with Sage Butter
Preheat oven to 400.
Get a rimmed baking sheet and line it with parchment paper.
1 butternut squash (3 1/2 to 4 lbs / 1.75 to 2 kg), halved lengthwise and seeded
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
10 sage leaves, thinly sliced
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup dry white wine
2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch (1 cm) dice
6 cups vegetable or chicken stock (or a blend of the two)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
pinch cayenne pepper
pinch ground nutmeg
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup half-and-half (10%) cream
1/2 cup whipping (35%) cream
1/4 cup unsalted butter
12 whole sage leaves
1. Rub the cut side of one of the squash halves with 1 tbsp (15 mL) of the oil and place cut side down on prepared baking sheet. Roast in preheated oven until a knife pierces easily into the thick part of the neck, about 40 minutes. Let cool on pan.
2. Meanwhile, peel and cut the remaining squash half into 1/2-inch (1 cm) dice; set aside.
3. In a large pot, heat the remaining oil over medium-high heat. Add sliced sage leaves and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add onion and sauté until softened, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add wine and cook until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add diced squash, potatoes, stock, and salt; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
4. Scoop roasted squash from its shell, mash it and add it to the soup. Season with lemon juice, cayenne, nutmeg, and black pepper to taste. Stir in half-and-half cream and whipping cream; reheat over medium heat until steaming, stirring often. Taste and adjust seasoning with cayenne, nutmeg, salt and black pepper, if necessary.
5. In a skillet, melt butter over medium heat until sizzling. Add whole sage leaves and sauté until crispy and browned, about 2 minutes. Transfer sage to a plate lined with paper towels. Remove pan from heat.
6. Ladle chowder into heated bowls and top each with a drizzle of sage butter and 2 fried sage leaves.