Butternut Squash Soup with Toasted Sage and Herbed Croutons
For an extra-special touch, toast the squash seeds to sprinkle over the soup. Rinse seeds, pat dry with paper towels, spread on a baking sheet and bake at 350°F for 30 to 40 minutes, tossing occasionally. This make-ahead soup can be frozen for up to 1 month.
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds; save seeds for toasting if desired (see above). Place squash halves cut side down on large baking sheet with sides. Bake until skins are browned and squash is tender, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Let cool slightly.
- Scoop cooked squash from skins and transfer to large saucepan. Mash well with potato masher, then stir in broth and 2 cups water. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring often. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat. Soup should be as thick as tomato sauce–add up to 1 cup more water to thin if necessary. If you prefer a finer texture, cool slightly then puree soup in a blender or food processor. Let cool completely, transfer to container with lid and refrigerate at least 8 hours.
- Up to 4 hours before serving, heat 3 tablespoons oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add sage leaves and cook until lightly browned, turning once, about 1 minute. Using tongs, transfer sage to paper towels to drain. Reserve oil in skillet.
- Trim crusts from bread, discarding crusts. Cut each bread slice diagonally into 4 triangles, then cut each triangle in half to make 32 croutons total.
- Heat reserved oil in skillet over medium heat. Add half the croutons and cook, turning once, until golden on both sides, about 1 minute. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in skillet and cook remaining croutons as before.
- Rewarm soup over low heat, stirring occasionally. Ladle soup into bowls and scatter 3 toasted sage leaves over each portion. Garnish each with 4 croutons and serve hot.