Cooking With Honey – Roasted Butternut Squash Soup With Honey, Pancetta, and Fried Sage Leaves

butternut soup

There are wonderful butternut squash available in the local markets, and today, cool and sunny, is a perfect day to prepare this tasty soup!

It’s what I’m having tonight!!

Yield:  Serves 4-6.

Ingredients:

1 (2 to 3-pound) butternut squash, halved with seeds removed

4 medium shallots, peeled and left whole

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

2 ounces pancetta (about 12 paper-thin slices), diced

1 cup diced leeks, white part only (about 1 large leek)

1/3 cup finely diced carrots (about 1 small carrot)

1/3 cup finely diced celery (about 1 small stalk celery)

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh sage

1 tablespoon dry white wine, of drinkable quality

2 quarts rich chicken or vegetable stock, plus extra if needed

1 teaspoon honey, or to taste*

Splash of sour cream and/or hot sauce, for serving (optional)

Canola oil for frying

1/4 cup sage leaves

Fine sea salt, to taste

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Coat the squash and shallots with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season generously with salt. Place  the squash and shallots onto the lined baking sheet and roast until the squash and shallots are tender when pierced with a skewer or the tip of a small knife, about 40-60 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside until needed.

Heat a large sauce pan or dutch oven over medium heat; add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and heat through. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring, until the fat has rendered and the pancetta is crisp. Remove from the heat, then use a slotted spoon to transfer the pancetta to a paper towel-lined plate; set aside until needed.

Return the pan to the heat and add the leeks, carrots and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, but not browned, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and sage and cook, stirring, until very fragrant, about 1 minute more. Add the wine, scraping up any browned bits that have formed on the bottom of the pan (deglaze). Cook until the wine has evaporated, then add the stock.

Scrape the squash pulp from the skin and add the pulp, the shallots (scraping up any browned bits) and honey to the pan; bring the stock to the boil. Immediately reduce to a simmer and cook until all the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.

Use an immersion blender to puree the soup completely. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper and honey as desired. Keep the soup warm until service. (This is where you’d add the splash of sour cream to taste, if desired.)

For the Sage: In a small, heavy-bottomed sauce pan, heat 1-inch of oil to 365°F; fry the sage in batches, stirring to separate the leaves, until crisp, about 3 to 5 seconds. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain; season with fine sea salt while still hot.

For Serving: Ladle the soup into warmed soup bowls or cups. Top each serving with some of the crispy pancetta and a few fried sage leaves. Serve immediately.

*The honey doesn’t sweeten up the soup; it just enhances the caramel flavor of the roasted squash.

Scottish Cockie Leekie

It is likely convicted Scottish witch Helen Duncan enjoyed this traditional Scottish soup.

An ancient dish, with prunes included in the ingredients, is mentioned as early as the 16th century. It is often served at Burns Suppers or St Andrew’s Night Dinner (30 November) as well as an everyday soup in winter. Some people omit the prunes though.

It is also notorious for being on the Titanic menu on the day the boat sank.

Titanic Menu Card

Titanic Menu Card

Yield: 6-8 servings

Ingredients:

1 stewing chicken, 4-5 pounds

1lb leeks (about 12) cleaned and cut into 1-inch pieces

4 pints stock or water

1oz long grained rice

4oz cooked, stoned prunes

One teaspoon honey

Salt and pepper

Garni of bay leaf, parsley, thyme

3 slices of bacon

Directions

Put the chicken and bacon in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and remove any scum. Add three-quarters of the leeks, (green as well as white sections), herbs (tied together in a bundle), salt and pepper and return to the boil. Simmer gently for 2-3 hours, adding more water if necessary.

Remove the chicken, bone and cut into small pieces and add them back into the soup. Add the rice, honey, drained prunes and the remaining leeks and simmer for another 30 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a little chopped parsley.

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Honey Roasted Winter Vegetable Soup

“Do you have a kinder, more adaptable friend in the food world than soup? Who soothes you when you are ill? Who refuses to leave you when you are impoverished and stretches its resources to give a hearty sustenance and cheer? Who warms you in the winter and cools you in the summer? Yet who also is capable of doing honor to your richest table and impressing your most demanding guests? Soup does its loyal best, no matter what undignified conditions are imposed upon it. You don’t catch steak hanging around when you’re poor and sick, do you?”
Judith Martin (Miss Manners)

Ingredients:

2 butternut squash (about 2 lbs each)
4 carrots, peeled
½ pound parsnips, peeled
1 onion, thinly sliced
¼ cup honey
3/4 stick butter
9 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon mace
2-3 teaspoons finely chopped crystallized ginger
Pitch of cayenne pepper
Sea salt, to taste

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350.

Halve the squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Place the squash, cut side up, in a large roasting pan. Cut the carrots and parsnips into small pieces, and scatter them, along with the onion, around the squash. Sprinkle the cut surfaces of the squash with the honey and dot all over with the butter. Pour 2 1/2 cups of the broth into the pan and cover it tightly with aluminum foil.  Bake until all the vegetables are very soft, about 2 hours.

Carefully remove the foil and let the vegetables cool slightly. Scoop the squash out of the skins and place it in heavy soup pot. Add the other vegetables, juice from the pan and the remaining 6 ½ cups of broth. Season with the mace, crystallized ginger, cayenne and salt. Stir together and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, covered for 10 minutes.

Puree the soup with an immersion blender or by batches in a blender or food processor until it is very smooth. Return the soup to the pot and add extra broth, if necessary, to thin it to the desired consistency. Heat it through. This soup can be refrigerated or frozen, but there is unlikely to be any soup leftover.

Serves 10

Minnesota Wild Rice Soup

One year I got extra fancy and started out Thanksgiving dinner with this wonderful soup! It’s a delicious and satisfying winter meal in itself.

Yields 8-10 first course servings

Ingredients:

1 cup uncooked wild rice

2 tablespoons butter

2 leeks, diced (about 2-1/2 cups)

2 plum tomatoes, diced (1 cup)

4 celery stalks, diced (1 cup)

8 ounces mushrooms, sliced (2 cups)

2 cloves garlic

1/4 cup flour

6 cups chicken broth

2-3 bone-in chicken breasts, cooked, removed from skin and bone, and diced (1 1/2 cups)

1 cup cream

1/4 cup dry sherry

1 tablespoon honey

Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Cook the wild rice according to the directions on the package. Wild rice generally takes 55-60 minutes to cook.

In a large soup pot, melt the butter and sauté the leeks, tomatoes, celery, mushrooms, and garlic on medium high heat. Cook for about 15 minutes, or until the vegetables have softened, stirring occasionally.

Add the flour and stir until blended into the vegetables. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Once boiling, cover, turn the heat down to low, and simmer for 30 minutes.

Add the wild rice and chicken. Stir in the cream, honey and sherry. Cook until thoroughly heated. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve hot!

Butternut Squash Soup With Sage And Honey

Fresh sage enhances the flavor of the butternut squash. Top with creme fraiche, and serve with a warm loaf of crusty bread.

Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut squash, 4 pounds
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter or olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 6 sage leaves
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup creme fraiche

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

Prick the squash with a fork and place it whole on a sheet pan. Roast for 45 minutes in the oven until the squash has softened. Cool the squash, then cut it in half and remove the seeds. Peel the halves and cut into 2-inch chunks. Reserve.

Peel, trim, and coarsely chop the onion. Reserve.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. When the butter starts to brown, add the onion and saute until it is translucent and starts to brown, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Add the honey to the onions and cook until it bubbles. Add the squash chunks and sage. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the chicken stock and enough water to cover the squash by an inch. Bring the soup to a boil and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook the soup until the onions and squash are very tender, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Add more liquid if necessary to keep the squash submerged.

Remove the pan from the heat and cool for 15 minutes.

Puree the soup in a blender. Do not fill the blender more than two-thirds full or you risk having the contents explode. Allow the steam to escape by removing the center plug in the lid and covering the hole with a thick towel to protect your hand. Hold the lid securely down and lift the towel slightly to allow the pressurized air to escape as you blend.

Strain through a coarse strainer if you want a smoother soup or return it directly to the pan; season it with salt and pepper to taste. Bring the finished soup back to a boil.

Ladle it into bowls and serve with a spiral of creme fraiche, about 1 tablespoon per bowl.

Yield: 8 servings