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Superb Squash Soup With The Best Parmesan Croutons

Superb Squash Soup With The Best Parmesan Croutons
T. Susan Chang for NPR /

This recipe is from Jamie At Home by Jamie Oliver (Hyperion 2008). Oliver recommends butternut squash, but I bet you could use acorn, delicata or the velvety kabocha with equally fine effects. Even a sugar pumpkin would work, as long as you're careful to puree thoroughly, not leaving any strings or fibers behind.

Makes 8 servings


2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil

16 fresh sage leaves

2 red onions, chopped

2 sticks celery, trimmed and chopped

2 carrots, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

2 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves picked

1/2 to 1 fresh red chili, to taste, deseeded

Salt and pepper

4 1/4 pounds butternut squash, halved, deseeded and cut into chunks

2 quarts chicken stock


Extra-virgin olive oil

16 slices ciabatta bread

Parmesan cheese, for grating

In a very large saucepan over medium heat, pour in 2 or 3 tablespoons of olive oil and fry the sage leaves for about 30 seconds, or until dark green and crisp. Quickly remove them with a slotted spoon to a bowl lined with paper towels — you'll use them at the end.

In the pan, you'll be left with a beautifully flavored oil; put it back on the heat and throw in the onion, celery, carrot, garlic, rosemary leaves, chili and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Cook gently for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables are sweet and soft. Add the squash and the stock to the pan, bring to a boil and simmer for about a half-hour.

When the squash is soft and cooked through, whiz the soup with an immersion blender or pour it into a standard blender and pulse until you have a smooth purée (or leave it slightly chunky if you like). Most importantly, remember to taste and season until it's perfect.

For the croutons, drizzle a little olive oil over the ciabatta slices, pat it in and press some grated Parmesan onto each side. Place in a nonstick pan without any oil, and fry until golden on both sides.

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