I’ve had soup on the brain lately. At the first sign of crisp Fall air, I made tomato soup. When my father in-law gifted me with a batch of smoky white bean soup, I eagerly accepted, and promptly devoured. Whether chowder or bisque, gumbo or stew, brothy or hearty, filling or light, Fall means soup. Soup in epic proportions.
So, I will ask your forgiveness, readers, for posting about soup three times in a row…but I never turn down an invitation to cook with friends. When my close friend Karissa, geographically far (but always close in mind), invited me to make pumpkin soup, I had to accept.
You see, Karissa lives in Morocco. Although Skype and e-mail suffice for now, I miss the simple things that make up our friendship, like browsing and chatting over tea at the bookstore…random photography excursions…double-dates and speed scrabble with the husbands…and most of all, cooking good food together.
I admired Karissa’s charming white pumpkin, gifted by her co-worker Imane, and journeyed to the last farmers market of the year to find my own pumpkin–an heirloom variety with plenty of character of its own.
I found this delightful lad at the farmer’s market. He just wouldn’t leave without his friend, a precocious little butternut squash, so I relented and took both home. As I marched through the un-raked leaves on my walkway, satisfied with the crunch beneath my feet, I felt as if Fall had finally arrived.
My pumpkin soup embodies everything I love about Fall: rich roasty flavors, comfort-food spices like cinnamon and allspice, and the aroma of sage-browned butter–a combination I crave like clockwork every year during the colder months.
This pumpkin soup tastes best when eaten with friends; so whether your friend lives next door, or in Casablanca, Morocco (many of Karissa’s friends, ironically, fit both of these criteria), share a few spoonfuls!
Roasty Pumpkin-Butternut Soup with Frizzled Sage Leaves
Serves 4-6 as a main course
For the Soup:
- 1 small/medium pumpkin (3 pounds)
- 1 butternut squash (2 pounds), halved lengthwise, seeds scooped out
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1 rib celery, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
- 3 large cloves garlic, minced
- 16 fresh sage leaves (for frying)
- 1 teaspoon fresh chopped sage
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 6 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for roasting
- 1/2 tsp allspice, divided
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon, divided
- 1/4 tsp white pepper, plus extra to stir in at the end
- 1 teaspoon real maple syrup
- 4 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
- Kosher salt to taste
For the Croutons
- 2 cups cubed bread (from a baguette or loaf of ciabatta)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- a pinch of kosher salt
Prepare for roasting:
Preheat the oven to 425˚F. Cut off the top of the pumpkin (like you do for Halloween), and scoop out the seeds and stringy bits. Cut the pumpkin into wedges and place on a baking sheet. Cut the butternut squash into 3/4 inch thick slices and place on a separate baking sheet. Drizzle a generous amount of olive oil over the pumpkin and squash. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon allspice, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon white pepper, and about 1 teaspoon kosher salt over the pumpkin and squash pieces. Toss to coat.
Roast the Pumpkin and Squash:
Bake in the 425˚ oven for about 45 minutes, flipping the pieces over after 30 minutes. You want your pumpkin and squash to be softened and lightly browned. (Keep a careful eye on the oven, because your butternut squash may cook faster than the pumpkin)
Allow to cool slightly before handling.
Build Your Soup:
Heat the butter and olive oil in a large dutch oven or saucepan until butter is melted. Wait until the mixture is hot, and then fry the whole sage leaves, 8 at a time until the edges curl up slightly (the leaves will crisp further upon cooling). Remove to a paper towel-covered plate. At this point, the butter-oil mixture should be a light golden brown.
Saute the onion, carrot, celery, and chopped sage in the brown-butter mixture until the vegetables are softened but not browned. Add the garlic, and saute for two more minutes. Scoop out the flesh of the pumpkin and squash, and add to the pan. Add the remaining 1/4 teaspoon allspice, a pinch of white pepper, and the maple syrup, and salt to taste. Stir, then allow to simmer for 10 minutes.
Make the croutons:
While the soup is simmering, set the oven to 350˚F. Toss the bread cubes in the olive oil and salt, and bake on a baking sheet for about 10 minutes, or until golden.
Finish the Soup:
Blend the soup together until smooth, adding additional broth if needed to reach the right consistency.
Serve while hot, garnishing with croutons and fried sage leaves.