by Jennifer Bowles
One of my favourite dishes to warm me up on a chilly January day is a hearty homemade soup. I’m sure we’ve all had our fair share of gobble gobble with all the trimmings over the last month, so for January let’s stick to comfort food but lower the caloric intake a bit. You can keep up with your New Year’s resolution to eat healthier, and you won’t feel like you’re missing out!
This is a perfect dish which I almost always find served as a starter. Butternut squash soup can be a superb meal on its own, with the right garnish to perfectly round it out. This recipe is a classic butternut squash soup topped with crispy fried leeks, julienne apple (sliced thinly) and fried goat cheese medallions with a crispy bread crumb coating with a hint of nutmeg. This recipe is super easy which will be a nice change, especially after you’ve slaved over the big culinary events during the holidays. Give yourself a break and curl up in front of the fire with a glass of your favourite wine and a bowl of this delicious, silky soup. You deserve it!
1 (2- to 3-pound) butternut squash, peeled and seeded
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 medium onion, chopped
6 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
(don’t cook with anything you wouldn’t drink!)
1/4 cup heavy cream
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 leek, sliced into very thin 2″ strips (avoid the dark green parts)
seasoned bread crumbs
Cut squash into 1-inch chunks. In a large pot over medium-high heat, melt butter. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the wine and reduce for 30 seconds. Add the squash and stock. Bring to a simmer and cook until squash is tender, about 15 to 20 minutes (may take longer depending on the squash, so keep testing). Remove from heat and, working in batches so you don’t get splashed, place in your food processor or blender and blend until smooth.
For the leeks, heat ¼” of oil in a deep frying pan over medium-high until shimmering (alternatively, you can use a deep fryer if you have one). In small batches fry the leeks until just brown around the edges. Set aside the leeks on paper towel to drain.
For the goat cheese set up a basic breading station. A small bowl with a beaten egg and another bowl with ½ cup of bread crumbs with a pinch of nutmeg and some salt and pepper. Slice a small log of goat cheese into ½” medallions. Dredge the cheese into the egg wash and then into your bread crumbs and pan fry over medium-high with a little butter over medium heat until golden brown. Use a different pan for this part!
To serve, ladle the soup into your favourite soup bowl and garnish first with the goat cheese, then top with your crispy leeks and julienne apple. This vibrant dish looks absolutely stunning and is the perfect kickoff to 2014! Enjoy everyone!