Back in the day, when I used to teach at a cooking school, this is the kind of soup that we would start off with. It’s easy to make and a great lesson in how to season soup. Taste it at each stage of cooking before adding the salt, spice, acid and cream and you’ll see what I mean.
It’s that easy: I like the hearty chunkiness of this soup the way it is, but if you’d like it a little more sophisticated, process the soup, slightly cooled, in a blender or in the pot with an immersion blender to make it smoother.
- 17 sage leaves, 5 thinly sliced and 12 whole
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 1 large russet or Yukon gold potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1/4 cup dry sherry or white wine
- 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
- Dash cayenne pepper
- Dash grated nutmeg
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- On a large cutting board, thinly slice the sage, dice the onion and potatoes and mince the garlic in separate piles.
- Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers add the sliced sage leaves and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add the onion and cook for 3 minutes or until softened. Add the garlic and cook another minute or until the garlic is fragrant.
- Add the sherry to the pan and cook until it has reduced somewhat, about 3 minutes. Add the stock, potatoes and 1/2 tsp. salt and a few grinds of pepper and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
- Using a potato masher, mash the potatoes a few times (or more) to thicken it. Season the soup with the lemon juice, cayenne, nutmeg, a few grinds of pepper and heavy cream. Taste again and adjust the seasoning with more salt, pepper, nutmeg or cayenne.
- Just before serving, heat the butter in a skillet over medium heat. When the butter sizzles, add the whole sage leaves and cook them in the butter until crispy and browned, about 1 minute. Transfer the sage leaves to a paper towel-lined plate and pour off the browned butter into a heatproof bowl (so that it doesn’t over brown).
- Ladle the soup into heated bowls and top each with a drizzle of the sage butter and two fried sage leaves.
Variation: Instead of potato, use diced butternut or acorn squash.