My kitchen was fragrant this weekend from garlic and acorn squash roasting in the oven. This lovely autumn soup is based on a recipe from Deborah Madison’s cookbook Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.
Halves of winter squash are roasted face down with garlic cloves in their cavities. This technique allows the garlic to slowly infuse the squash with warm garlic steam. When soft, it all is added to a pot of browned onions, herbs, and broth. After simmering a bit, a stick immersion blender purees everything smooth.
I strayed from Deborah’s recipe in increasing the amount of garlic from 6 to 10 cloves. Feel free to even go further. The roasted garlic is soft, rich, and almost sweet.
Deborah Madison recommends pairing this soup with blue-cheese-walnut crostini. That was decidedly fantastic, creating a perfect trio of soup, crostini and red wine. It made a lovely meal with my friend Floriane. The crostini recipe also follows below.
ROASTED WINTER SQUASH SOUP WITH SAGE
2.5 to 3 pounds winter squash (I used 2 acorn squash)
1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra for rubbing on the squash
10 garlic cloves, unpeeled
12 whole sage leaves, plus 2 tablespoons sage chopped
2 onions, finely chopped
chopped leaves from 4 thyme sprigs, or 1/4 teaspoon dried
1/4 cup chopped parsley
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 quarts vegetable stock
fontina, pecorino or parmesan for garnish
Preheat the oven to 375F. Halve the squash and scoop out the seeds. Brush the surfaces with olive oil. Stuff the cavities with garlic, and place them cut sides down on a baking sheet. Bake until very soft and tender, about 30-35 minutes.
Meanwhile in a small skillet, heat the 1/4 cup olive oil until nearly smoking, then drop in the whole sage leaves and fry until speckled and dark, about 1 minute. Set the leaves aside on a paper towel. Using a rubber spatula, transfer the sage-infused olive oil into a heavy soup pot. Add the onions, chopped sage, thyme, and parsley. Cook over medium heat until the onions are browning on the edges, about 15 minutes.
Scoop the squash flesh into the pot along with any juices that have accumulated in the pan. Peel the garlic and add it to the pot along with 1 1/2 teaspoon salt and the broth. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 25 minutes. Puree the soup with a stick immersion blender. Taste for salt. Ladle into bowls, and garnish with cheese and fried sage leaves.
BLUE CHEESE AND WALNUT CROSTINI
4 ounces, Roquefort, Maytag, or Danish blue
3 tablespoons butter at room temperature
1-2 teaspoons cognac
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
freshly milled pepper
finely chopped parsley
Toast the baguette slices under the broiler until nicely browned on one side, then a little less so on the second. Cream the blue cheese and butter until smooth, then work in the cognac, walnuts and black pepper. Spread on the paler side of the toasts, then broil until the cheese is bubbling. Remove, and dust with the parsley. Serve warm.