Superb squash soup with the best Parmesan croutons

Butternut Squash Soup

Serves 8

  • olive oil

  • 16 fresh sage leaves

  • 2 red onions, peeled and chopped

  • 2 sticks celery, trimmed and chopped

  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped

  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves picked

  • ½ - 1 fresh red chilli, to taste, deseeded and finely chopped

  • sea salt

  • freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 kg butternut squash, onion squash or musque de Provence, halved, deseeded and cut into chunks

  • 2 litres organic chicken or vegetable stock

  • extra virgin olive oil

  • For the croutons

  • extra virgin olive oil

  • 16 slices ciabatta bread

  • 1 block Parmesan cheese, for grating

Put a very large saucepan on a medium heat and pour in a couple of lugs of olive oil. Add the sage leaves and fry for around 30 seconds or until dark green and crisp. Quickly remove them with a slotted spoon to a bowl lined with kitchen paper – you'll use these for sprinkling over at the end. In the pan you'll be left with a beautifully flavoured oil, so put it back on the heat and throw in your onion, celery, carrot, garlic, rosemary leaves, chilli and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Cook gently for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are sweet and soft. Add the squash and the stock to the pan, bring to the boil and simmer for around half an hour.



While the soup is cooking, make your croutons. Drizzle a little olive oil over the ciabatta slices, pat it in and press some grated Parmesan on to each side. Place in a non-stick pan without any oil and fry until golden on both sides.



When the squash is soft and cooked through, whiz the soup with a hand blender or pour it into a liquidizer and pulse until you have a smooth purée (but you can leave it slightly chunky if you like). Most importantly, remember to taste and season it until it's perfect. Divide the soup between your bowls, placing 2 croutons on top of each. Sprinkle with a few of your crispy sage leaves and drizzle with a swirl of good-quality extra virgin olive oil.

Nutritional Information

Superb squash soup with the best Parmesan croutons

Smooth, creamy and a little bit spicy

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This delicious butternut squash soup is a great base – try it with pasta or pearl barley thrown in
Serves 8
55m
Super easy
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Method

This fantastic soup is best made with varieties of squash that have dense, orange flesh, such as butternut or onion squash. It's important to use good chicken stock and season the soup well to bring out the nutty, sweet flavour of the squash. Once you've mastered this recipe, you can take the soup in different ways by adding pearl barley, dried pasta, or some chopped smoked bacon. Even the smallest amount of dried porcini. PS I made this in my pressure cooker the other day, with really great results – it's so quick!

Put a very large saucepan on a medium heat and pour in a couple of lugs of olive oil. Add the sage leaves and fry for around 30 seconds or until dark green and crisp. Quickly remove them with a slotted spoon to a bowl lined with kitchen paper – you'll use these for sprinkling over at the end. In the pan you'll be left with a beautifully flavoured oil, so put it back on the heat and throw in your onion, celery, carrot, garlic, rosemary leaves, chilli and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Cook gently for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are sweet and soft. Add the squash and the stock to the pan, bring to the boil and simmer for around half an hour.

While the soup is cooking, make your croutons. Drizzle a little olive oil over the ciabatta slices, pat it in and press some grated Parmesan on to each side. Place in a non-stick pan without any oil and fry until golden on both sides.

When the squash is soft and cooked through, whiz the soup with a hand blender or pour it into a liquidizer and pulse until you have a smooth purée (but you can leave it slightly chunky if you like). Most importantly, remember to taste and season it until it's perfect. Divide the soup between your bowls, placing 2 croutons on top of each. Sprinkle with a few of your crispy sage leaves and drizzle with a swirl of good-quality extra virgin olive oil.

Nutritional Information Amount per serving:

Calories

Calories are just a unit of energy. If you eat more than you use you can gain weight, or lose it if you don't eat enough. How much you need depends on your weight, gender and how active you are, but it's around 2,000 a day.

Carbs

Carbs are a great source of energy and, excluding foods such as potatoes, are made from grains - like bread, pasta and cereal. We all need carbs, but try to make them all wholegrain by sticking to brown bread, rice and pasta - they are much more nutritious.

Sugar

We all deserve a treat sometimes, but try to limit your sugar intake. Most of your sugar should come from raw fruit and milk, because they give us lots of nutrients too. Always check food labels so you know how much sugar you're eating.

Fat

We all need to eat a small amount of fat because it protects our organs and helps us grow. But we need to be careful about how much fat we eat and what kinds of fat, because in higher levels it's associated with weight gain, diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

Saturates

Saturated or "bad fats" are in beef, pork, chicken skin, butter, cream and cheese. Too much can be bad for our heart and cholesterol levels, but unsaturated or "good fats" in fish, nuts, avocados and some oils can help keep our hearts healthy if eaten in moderation.

Protein

Protein helps our muscles to grow and repair, as well as providing you with essential amino acids. When it comes to protein, try to eat leaner sources such as chicken and fish or non-meat sources such as eggs, dairy, beans, nuts, seeds, tofu and pulses.
  • Calories 293
    15%
  • Carbs 39.3g
    15%
  • Sugar 15.4g 17%
  • Fat 8.2g 12%
  • Saturates 2.3g 12%
  • Protein 12.1g 27%
Of an adult's reference intake

BUYING SUSTAINABLY SOURCED FISH

Close

Buying sustainably sourced fish means buying fish that has been caught without endangering the levels of fish stocks and with the protection of the environment in mind. Wild fish caught in areas where stocks are plentiful are sustainably sourced, as are farmed fish that are reared on farms proven to cause no harm to surrounding seas and shores.

When buying either wild or farmed fish, ask whether it is sustainably sourced. If you're unable to obtain this information, don't be afraid to shop elsewhere – only by shopping sustainably can we be sure that the fantastic selection of fish we enjoy today will be around for future generations.

For further information about sustainably sourced fish, please refer to the useful links below:

Marine Stewardship Council
http://www.msc.org/

Fish Online
http://www.fishonline.org

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  • olive oil

  • 16 fresh sage leaves

  • 2 red onions, peeled and chopped

  • 2 sticks celery, trimmed and chopped

  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped

  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves picked

  • ½ - 1 fresh red chilli, to taste, deseeded and finely chopped

  • sea salt

  • freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 kg butternut squash, onion squash or musque de Provence, halved, deseeded and cut into chunks

  • 2 litres organic chicken or vegetable stock

  • extra virgin olive oil

  • For the croutons

  • extra virgin olive oil

  • 16 slices ciabatta bread

  • 1 block Parmesan cheese, for grating