Cynthia Ferris-Bennett: Fabulous fragrant fall (recipe)

Sierra Chef Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Sierra Chef Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

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There is nothing better than the fragrance of fall. The familiar warm scents of nutmeg, cinnamon, apples and such wafting through the crisp air inspiring you to get into the kitchen and cook!
One of the first things I always make is roasted butternut squash soup. This soup is so very satisfying and has a rich smoky taste with a little surprise of heat at the end.
The butternut squash is actually a hybrid created in the 1940s by Charles Leggett of Stow, Massachusetts. Leggett experimented with crossing a Gooseneck Squash with several other squash varieties until he finally ended up with what we see today.
Roasting the squash allows for another level of flavor that you won’t get if you just cube and sauté. It takes a little more time for this step but it is certainly worth it. Also be sure to remove the charred skin from the Butternut squash when it is removed from the oven. Once the squash cools down it is much harder to remove the skin ... when hot the skin peels off nicely.
I also recommend the use of a handheld immersion blender rather than a standard blender. If you do not have an immersion blender you can use a standard blender. I highly recommend adding an immersion blender to your kitchen toys.
By comparison the immersion blender will make a much creamier soup than a standard blender. It is also an incredibly handy tool to have at your fingertips, once you start to use this tool you will wonder what you did without it.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small white onion, medium chop
2 stalks celery, medium chop
1 medium carrot, shredded
2 medium yellow potatoes, medium cubed
2 large green apples, peeled, cored and diced small
1 garlic clove, mashed
1 large Butternut squash cut in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds
1 (32) ounce container chicken stock (or vegetable stock for our vegetarians)
10 fresh sage leaves, remove stems
1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1⁄4 teaspoon liquid smoke (mesquite is preferred)
EVOO – extra virgin olive oil
Smoked sea salt to taste
Red pepper flakes to taste
Immersion Blender
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
Brush EVOO on all cut sides and the inside of the Butternut squash. Place the squash cut side down on a baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 30 -40 minutes or until you can easily pierce the squash through to the center. Once the squash is cooked, remove from the oven. The skin on the squash will be blistered and will peel off... use a knife to cut off any remaining skin.
Cut the squash into cubes and set aside.
Place 2 tablespoons of EVOO in a skillet on medium high. When the EVOO is hot place the sage leaves in the oil to crisp up. They will crisp fairly quickly so keep a good eye on them. Turn them once and then drain them on a paper towel and set aside.
Melt the butter on medium high in a large pot, cook the apples, onion, celery, carrots, potatoes and garlic 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Pour in 1⁄2 of your stock choice, reduce heat to low, cover pot and simmer for 45 minutes or until all of the vegetables are tender.
Add butternut squash cubes, nutmeg and blend using an immersion blender. Add remaining stock until you get the desired consistency. Add the liquid smoke and red pepper flakes (if desired), adjust with smoked sea salt as needed.
Serve in a large soup bowl and top with the crispy sage leaves...mangia!
Cynthia Ferris-Bennett is the owner of the Sierra Chef Culinary Center, Italian Bakery, Deli & Gourmet Market in Genoa. She manages the Main Street Gardnerville Farmers Market on Wednesdays at Heritage Park in Gardnerville, May through September.


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