Thomas Keller's Butternut Soup with Brown Butter, Sage, and Nutmeg Crème Fraîche

By • November 25, 2014 13 Comments

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Author Notes: This is a perfect recipe to make for incoming holiday guests, by yourself in the quiet days leading up to their arrival. Its flavors sweeten and develop with a day or two in the fridge, and will go over very well in mixed company: You'll take care of the omnivores, the vegetarians, the gluten-averse, and the elderly relatives on soft food diets, all with one pot. Recipe adapted slightly from Bouchon (Artisan, 2004).Genius Recipes


Serves 6

  • One 3 to 3 1/2-pound butternut squash
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 sage sprigs
  • 1 cup thinly sliced (1/8-inch thick) leeks, white and light green parts only
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced (1/8-inch thick) carrots
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced (1/8-inch thick) shallots
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced (1/8-inch thick) onions
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 6 cups vegetable stock, plus extra if necessary
  • Bouquet Garni made of 8 sprigs thyme, 2 sprigs Italian parsley, 2 bay leaves, and 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns, all wrapped in a packet made of 2 green leek leaves
  • 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup crème fraîche
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • Canola oil (if using sage leaves)
  • 12 sage leaves or 1 tablespoon minced chives
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  1. For the soup: Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a small baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment.
  2. Cut the neck off the squash and set it aside. Cut the bulb in half and scoop out and discard the seeds. Brush each half inside and out with about 1 1/2 teaspoons of the canola oil. Sprinkle the cavities with salt and pepper and tuck a sprig of sage into each. Place cut side down on the baking sheet and roast for about 1 hour, or until completely tender.
  3. Remove the squash from the oven and let cool, then scoop out and reserve the flesh (discard sage).
  4. Meanwhile, using a paring knife or a peeler, carefully peel away the skin from the neck of the squash until you reach the bright orange flesh. Cut the flesh into 1/2-inch pieces (you should have about 4 cups).
  5. Put the remaining canola oil in a stockpot over medium-high heat, add the leeks, carrots, shallots, and onions and cook, stirring often, for about 6 minutes. Add the diced squash, garlic, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook gently for 3 minutes, reducing the heat as necessary to keep the garlic and squash from coloring. Stir in the honey and cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the stock and bouquet garni, bring to a simmer and cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until the squash is tender.
  6. Add the roasted squash and simmer gently for about 30 minutes for the flavors to blend. Remove from the heat and discard the bouquet garni. Transfer the soup to a blender, in batches, and puree. Strain the soup through a fine sieve into a bowl. Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning. Let the soup cool, then refrigerate until ready to serve.
  7. To complete: Place the crème fraîche in a chilled small metal bowl and stir in nutmeg to taste. Whisk with a small whisk until the crème fraîche holds a shape. Cover and refrigerate.
  8. Reheat the soup. If it is too thick, add a little more vegetable stock. Heat a medium skillet over high heat. When it is very hot, add the butter and rotate the skillet over the heat as necessary to brown the butter evenly, scraping up any bits that settle in the bottom. As soon as the foaming has subsided and the butter is a hazelnut brown, pour it into the pot of soup. Be careful not to leave the butter over the heat too long, as it can change from rich brown to black in seconds.
  9. Meanwhile, if using sage leaves, heat 1/8 inch of canola oil in a small skillet. When the oil is very hot, add the sage and cook for 30 to 45 seconds, turning the leaves to crisp them on both sides. When the bubbling stops, the moisture in the leaves will have evaporated and the leaves will be crisp. Drain the sage on paper towels and sprinkle with salt.
  10. Ladle the soup into six serving bowls. Top each with a dollop of crème fraîche. Grind some black pepper over the top and garnish each with 2 sage leaves or some minced chives. Drizzle a little olive oil over the top.

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