• 4 red onions • 3 sticks of celery
• 1 small leek • 4 carrots • 5 cloves garlic
• ½ – red chilli, medium hot • 4 sprigs rosemary
• 30 fresh sage leaves • 3 kg butternut squash
• 2.5 litres vegetable stock (preferably Knor organic vegetable stock
For the Croutons:
• dried thyme • ciabatta loaf bread • Parmesan
- Peel and roughly chop the butternut, onions and garlic. Make sure you deseed the squash.
- Finely chop the carrots, leek, celery and chilli then pick the rosemary and chop it too.
- Heat 5 generous table spoons of olive oil on half heat and, when hot, add all the sage leaves and cook for around 1.5mins. or until they go a darker colour and become crispy. When you’re happy with them remove with a slotted spoon, allowing the excess oil to drain back into the pan then gently lay the sage leaves on some kitchen roll and set to one side.
- Put the pan back on the heat with the sage oil, add the onions, chilli, garlic and rosemary. Turn them over in the oil, put a lid on the pan and sweat on a medium heat for 5 mins. then add the celery, carrots and leek. Give them a good turn then drop the heat slightly and put the lid back on for 15 mins. to sweat. Make sure you keep turning the veg over so that it doesn’t stick. Add the chopped squash to the pan and mix together.
- Make up your vegetable stock then pour into the pan. Turn the heat up and bring to the boil, then put the lid back on with a gap and simmer until the squash is very tender.
- When the squash is tender, remove from the heat and, keeping back 10 of the sage leaves, put the rest back in the soup. Use a stick blender to blitz the soup until silky and smooth. Add sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to season.
- Preheat the oven to 160c, cut the ciabatta loaf into 1inch slices (see photo for example) place them all in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil then season with sea salt flakes.
Sprinkle with dried thyme, making sure every piece has an even coating of the seasoning. Lay them all on a non-stick baking tray (or use parchment paper) and place in the oven for 5mins., then remove and turn each one over, put back in the oven for another 5 or 10 mins. until they are just turning golden then remove again and sprinkle on the top of each crouton individually some grated parmesan. Finally, place back it the oven for 3mins. or until the cheese has melted.
- To serve, place a crouton on top of the soup and lay two sage leaves across one another