Posts Tagged ‘Sage’

Red Kuri Squash Soup

If you have small children, there’s a good chance you’ve read the book “Pumpkin Soup” by Helen Cooper.  It’s an adorable tale about three friends: a duck, a cat, and a squirrel.  They live in a pumpkin patch, play music, and go on adventures to find spices.  Every night for dinner they make– surprise!– pumpkin soup.  “The best you ever tasted.”  Just after we first read the book to Aanen when he was two, he started asking for pumpkin soup.  This is the version I make for him.  (P.S. Yes, it’s technically squash soup, but I’m comfortable with the deception.)

This is a simple, light squash soup.  It’s nothing fancy, and I think I appreciate it for that very reason.  The squash alone is silky, so I don’t add heavy cream.  I made it with whole milk once, and though it was good, I prefer it this way.  I like to use red Kuri squash for this soup, but Buttercup or Sweet Mama varieties are also wonderful options.   Sometimes I swap the onion for a couple of leeks, but given the abundance of onions in my home, I generally use them.  The key to the soup is the freshly grated nutmeg.  It gives this soup a subtle depth that is difficult to pinpoint.  Nutmeg has a way of doing that, which is one of the reasons I use it as much as I do.  The other essential  ingredient is fried sage leaves.  If you haven’t eaten a sage leaf fried in butter, do yourself a favor and give it a try.  Amazing stuff.

This soup would make a perfect starter for your Thanksgiving meal– I made it for that very purpose last year.  It’s a wonderful soup to make ahead of time and reheat right before you serve it.  And it’s not so heavy that your friends and family will leave too much turkey on the platter.  Also, remember that you can adjust the thickness by adding more or less chicken stock.

The Recipe: Red Kuri Squash Soup

Serves 4

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium-large red kuri squash

1 medium white onion

6 -7 cups chicken broth

kosher salt and cracked black pepper

freshly grated nutmeg, about 1/2 teaspoon


3-4  tablespoons butter

fresh sage leaves, use as many as you like (2-3 per bowl of soup works well)

toasted and salted pepitas

sour cream or creme fraiche

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Cut the squash in half and remove seeds.  Place squash cut side up in a baking dish and cover with lid or aluminum foil.  Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until tender.

Meanwhile, in a dutch oven set on the stove top, begin to sautee the onion in olive oil when the squash is nearly cooked.  Add the chicken broth and bring to a simmer.  When the squash is tender, scoop the flesh from the skin and add it to the dutch oven.  Let cook for a few minutes to make sure the squash is completely cooked through and to let the flavors meld.  Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.  Use an emersion blender to puree the soup or transfer it to a regular blender.  Adjust seasonings, if necessary.

In a medium skillet, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the sage leaves and sautee for just a minute.  Remove from heat.  Ladle hot soup into bowls and top with sour cream, pepitas, and the fried sage leaves.  Enjoy!

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Last week I told you I’d have another fabulous recipe for you to use up any left-over winter squash you have from this dish.  Here it is, and it’s a remarkable Squash Ravioli, which also happens to be one of my favorite meals.  I’ve always felt that homemade pasta is the perfect comfort food– and pairing it with squash and browned butter with sage makes for a sublime Autumn dinner.

Browned butter and sage sauce is so simple to make, yet the incredible flavor will really stay with you.  I crave this sauce for weeks after we make this dish– you will too.  Seriously, it’s that good.  It perfectly compliments the sweetness of the squash, the creamy ricotta cheese, and the hint of freshly-grated nutmeg– all of which make up the filling.  The walnuts add texture to counter the pillow-soft ravioli.  And topping almost anything with Parmesan cheese makes it a little bit better.  Serve the ravioli with the crispy sage leaves (if you can keep yourself from eating them before dinner).

Now I know making homemade pasta may not be on your agenda.  Here’s the thing, though– fresh pasta really is that much better than the dried varieties you see at the market.  There’s no comparison.  And as I’ve said before, if you make it a family project you’ll enjoy the process, rather than thinking of it as just preparation.  As for the equipment, while it’s certainly easier to use a food processor and pasta roller, all you really need are strong arms, a sturdy wooden spoon, and a rolling pin.  Hey, it’s exercise, right?  Give it a try and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how satisfying it is to make your own pasta.  And even more satisfying when you get to fill it with amazing ingredients like this.

The Recipe:  Squash Ravioli with Browned Butter and Sage

The Pasta Dough:

(Makes 1 pound of dough)

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 large whole eggs

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons water

1 egg (reserved for ravioli wash)

The Squash Filling:

1 1/2 cups squash puree

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon cracked pepper

Browned Butter and Sage Sauce:

1 stick unsalted butter

6 sage leaves

2/3 cup water

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

salt and pepper

1/2 cup toasted walnuts

To make the pasta dough:  Mix 2 eggs and olive oil into a measuring cup.  Add 3 tablespoons water (or however much needed to reach 7 fluid ounces).  Put the flour into a food processor fitted with a regular blade and pulse a couple of times to aerate (there will not be enough dough to successfully use the dough blade).  Start running the machine and pour the egg mixture down the feed tube, carefully getting every drop in there.  A dough ball should form quickly.  Do not process for more that 40 seconds total.  Turn machine off and turn dough onto a lightly floured surface.  Knead by hand for  a half minute, or until it’s smooth.  Form it into a ball and wrap it tightly with plastic wrap.  Let rest at room temperature for at least a half hour.   Store in the refrigerator for a day, or freeze for a month or more.  Defrost in the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature before rolling.

To bake the squash: Preheat oven to 375°F.  Place a quartered, seeded squash on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil.  Cover with foil and bake until soft and tender, 35-45 minutes.  Let cool.  Scoop out flesh into food processor.  Add a bit of water if necessary and puree until smooth.  Cool.

To make the filling:  Add the squash, ricotta cheese, nutmeg, salt and pepper to a bowl.  Mix and set aside.  There may be some leftover filling.  Refrigerate and enjoy by the spoonfuls the next day.

To form the ravioli:  Quarter the dough ball.  Use a pasta machine or roll each section by hand.  Making sure to flour your work surface well.  The goal is to get the dough very thin and long.  Once you achieve this, straighten up the sides, if necessary and cover.  Repeat with another quarter of the dough.  You’ll want to get two matching sections.  Make the ravioli however big you like.  Using a pastry brush, apply an egg wash (beaten egg) along the edges of each ravioli.  Place a tablespoon of filling in the middle of each section and top with the other section of dough.  Press the dough together along the egg wash– this will seal the filling inside.  Use a pasta cutter to cut the ravioli into sections.  Or use a knife and press down with fork tines to seal.

To make the browned butter and sage sauce:  In a medium-sized sauce pan, place a stick of butter and the sage leaves.  Begin to brown the butter until it’s fragrant and has a nice caramel color.  Stir frequently.  Add 2/3 cup of pasta water and cook for another 3-4 minutes.  Remove from heat.

Place the ravioli in a large pot of salted, boiling water.  You will want to work in batches.  Place three ravioli (depending upon the size of your pot) into the water.  Cook for about three minutes.  The dough will shrink and tightly enclose the mound of filling when done.   Remove from water and repeat with remaining ravioli.  Toss the cooked ravioli into the brown butter and sage sauce immediately, so they don’t stick together.  When serving, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and the toasted walnuts.  Enjoy!

Source:  Pasta and Sauce adapted from Lidia Bastiancich’s Lidia’s Family Table

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