Butternut Squash Soup with Sage Croutons

INGREDIENTS:

SOUP:

  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 star anise pod
  • 1 teaspoon multicolored peppercorns
  • 1 large butternut squash or 1 1/4 pounds frozen cubed squash
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus extra for drizzling
  • 3 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons orange blossom, clover, or lavender honey
  • 2-3 tablespoons hulled pumpkin seeds (pepitas), toasted

SAGE CROUTONS:

  • 3 oz. KING'S HAWAIIAN Original Hawaiian Sweet Round Bread, cut into 24 1-inch cubes
  • 1 ½ tbsp. fresh sage, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • freshly ground salt, to taste
  • ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 tbsp. finely grated Parmesan

METHOD:

  • Place the thyme, cloves, star anise, and peppercorns in the center of a piece of cheesecloth and tie into a pouch. Set aside.
  • If starting with a whole squash, use a vegetable peeler to remove all of the skin (it's very thick so be sure to get all of it off) and halve the squash lengthwise. Remove the seeds and discard. Cut into 1" chunks.
  • Warm the olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook about 2 minutes, until softened and fragrant.
  • Add the squash, broth, salt, plenty of pepper, and the spice bag. Simmer, partially covered, until the squash is tender (25 to 30 minutes for raw squash, 15 minutes for frozen).
  • Remove the bag of spices and puree the soup until super smooth with an immersion blender or in a blender.
  • To serve, ladle into bowls, drizzle with the honey, garnish with the pumpkin seeds, and add a final drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.

SAGE CROUTONS:

  • Preheat oven to 375° F.
  • Toss all ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Spread the cubed bread on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown.

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