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Butternut Squash Soup with Toasted Sage and Herbed Croutons

3 medium or 2 large butternut or acorn squash (4 lbs.)
2 (14-oz.) cans vegetable broth (1 qt.)
1 tsp. coarse salt
1/4 tsp. ground white pepper
4 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil or 3 Tbs. vegetable oil and 1 Tbs. walnut oil
24 fresh small sage leaves
4 slices firm-textured white bread


Preheat oven to 400F. 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 sauceadd 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.

Source: www.vegetariantimes.com