Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Sage Cream

This beautiful orange-hued soup with its sweet and slightly tart accents would be great to serve for Thanksgiving. Offer it as a starter served in shallow bowls at the table or in mugs for sipping standing up. It’s also a perfect potage to have on hand for post-Thanksgiving meals. Try it with a turkey sandwich or with a green salad garnished with nuts and dried cranberries.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Sage Cream

8 cups peeled, seeded, and diced (1-inch cubes) butternut squash (about 4 pounds squash-See note)
4 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups creme fraîche
1 tablespoon dried rubbed sage
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced shallots
7 cups chicken stock
1 cup grated Gruyere
8 fresh sage leaves or small sprigs, for garnish

1. Arrange a rack at center position, and preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line 2 heavy, rimmed baking sheets with foil, and spread half of the cubed squash on each. Drizzle cubes on each sheet with 2 tablespoons oil. Then season cubes on each sheet with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Toss cubes to coat well with oil and seasonings.

2. Bake squash, stirring every 10 minutes to prevent sticking, until tender when pierced with a knife and lightly browned, 30 to 35 minutes. Reverse the baking sheets after the first 20 minutes. Watch carefully. Remove from oven.

3. Place cream fraîche and dried sage in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir to combine, then bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and let stand 15 minutes for sage to infuse the cream.

4. Heat butter in a large, heavy pot (with a lid) over medium heat. When hot, add shallots and cook, stirring, until softened and translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in the squash, then add stock and bring mixture to a simmer. Cook, covered, at a simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 10 minutes. Puree soup in a food processor, blender or food mill, and return it to the pot. Or, use an immersion blender to puree the soup in the pot.

5. Whisk in all but 1/2 cup of the creme fraîche. Taste soup and season with salt as needed. (Soup can be prepared 2 days ahead; cool, cover, and refrigerate. Cover and refrigerate remaining 1/2 cup creme fraîche separately. Reheat soup over low heat, stirring.)

6. To serve, ladle soup into 8 bowls. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons Gruyere over each serving and drizzle with a tablespoon of the remaining creme fraîche. Garnish each bowl with a sage leaf or sprig. Serves 8.

Note: Some stores sell butternut squash already peeled and seeded and sometimes even cubed. If you can find it this way, it will save you time. 32 to 40 ounces (2 to 2 1/4 pounds) peeled squash will yield 8 cups.

© Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2010

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