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Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Polenta and Sage

This butternut squash soup is Fall in a bowl! Think sun kissed fields, golden foliage and long shadows in the late afternoon sun. It's sweet, and creamy, and bursts with the flavors and aroma of fresh thyme and the warmth of nutmeg. It makes a perfect rustic and comforting soup for any weeknight dinner, but dressed up with the fried polenta and sage, it also makes a perfect first course at any dinner party.
I usually prep the roasted squash and polenta ahead of time, sometimes even the day before, that way there is less wait time when I make the soup.
Course: Soups and Stews
Yield: 4 servings

Materials

For the Soup

  • 1 large Butternut squash (about 4 pounds)
  • 1 onion
  • 2 carrots chopped
  • 2 celery ribs chopped
  • 1 potato cut into 1" chunks
  • 1 tspn salt
  • 1/4 tspn nutmeg
  • 1/2 tspn ground thyme
  • freshly ground black pepper qb
  • 5 cups vegetable broth

For the Fried Polenta and Sage

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 1 tspn salt
  • 2 Tbspn butter
  • 1 bunch of sage

To garnish

  • chopped candied pecans
  • fresh thyme
  • olive oil

Instructions

To Make the Roasted Squash:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Peel the butternut squash with a peeler.
  • Cut the ends off, slice the squash in half and remove the seeds.
  • Cube the squash and put it in a mixing bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss until well coated.
  • Spread the squash on a parchment lined baking sheet in a single layer.
  • Roast for about fifteen minutes, or until the squash begins to turn golden brown and then use a spatula to flip the cubes over to allow the other side to brown as well.
    Roast the squash for another 15 minutes, or until the squash is fork tender.

To Make the Fried Polenta

  • Bring water to a boil and add salt.
  • Gradually whisk the polenta into the water.
  • Reduce heat and continue stirring until the mixture thickens, about 15 minutes.
  • Stir in the butter.
  • Oil a heat proof 9" round baking dish and transfer the mixture to the dish. Refrigerate for two hours or until the polenta sets.
  • Turn the polenta out onto a cutting board and cut into triangles.
  • In a large skillet, heat olive oil and 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add polenta triangles and fry until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side.
  • Remove polenta from heat and drain on racks. Place in a warm oven until ready to serve.

To Make the Soup:

  • Add olive oil to a heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven. Add the chopped onion, carrot and celery and saute over medium heat until softened, about seven minutes.
  • Add the squash and potato to the pot.
  • Add vegetable broth.
  • Bring to a boil and add the salt, nutmeg, thyme and black pepper. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until potatoes are cooked through.
  • Use an immersion blender to puree the soup in the pot. Adjust seasoning to taste.

For the fried sage leaves

  • Add olive oil to a saute pan. Add the sage leaves in a single layer and fry until crisp, just a few seconds.
  • Remove and drain on paper towels. Season with salt while they are hot.

To serve

  • Ladle the soup into the bowls. Arrange the polenta in the center of the bowl, stacked one one top of the other. Lay the fried sage leaves on top, and garnish with chopped candied pecans, fresh thyme and a drizzle of good olive oil. Enjoy!