Spiced Butternut-Leek Soup with Browned Butter, Brussels Sprout Leaves, Orange Creme Fraiche, and Black Sesame
Serves 10 to 12
2 cinnamon sticks
2 bay leaves
1 sprig thyme
1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 large leeks (white parts), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
2 large shallots, thinly sliced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced into large cubes, (about 9 cups)
2 large carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup dry white wine
5 1/2 cups water
3 vegetable based bouillon cubes
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/4 cups crème fraîche – (good sub – whole milk greek yogurt)
Zest from 3 oranges + 1/4 cup freshly squeezed juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup unsalted butter
8 cups brussels sprouts, stems removed and outer leaves kept intact and peeled from core (may need to keep slicing off stem to peel more leaves)
1-2 tablespoons black sesame seeds, toasted, for garnishing
Tie up the cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, thyme, cloves, coriander seeds, and black peppercorns in a piece of cheesecloth to make a sachet.
In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the leeks, shallots, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are softened, 5 to 8 minutes. Add the cubed squash and carrots, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, for a few minutes. Increase the heat to high, add the orange juice and wine, and simmer until reduced by half. Add the water, bouillon cubes, allspice, cinnamon, and sachet, bring to a simmer, and cook until the squash and carrots are very tender, about 35 minutes. Remove from heat.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl mix together the crème fraîche, orange zest, orange juice, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and let sit for 5 minutes. Pass through a small fine mesh strainer into a small bowl, cover, and let chill in the fridge.
Discard the sachet and transfer the soup in batches in a blender until very smooth, then pass through a fine mesh strainer back into the pot. Stir in the heavy cream, along with the honey, season with salt and pepper, adjust and season with more cinnamon if desired. I prefer this soup thin, so if it’s thick, adjust with water and thin as needed. Cover, and keep hot.
In a small saucepan, cook the butter over medium heat until it melts and the milk solids turn golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir the browned butter into the soup until combined throughout. Return to the pan, and heat 1 teaspoon of the olive oil over medium heat Add the brussels sprout leaves, season lightly with salt, and let sit in the pan for a minute to crisp and brown up the edges, then toss after 1 minute. Add a splash of water and continue to cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
To serve, ladle the soup into bowls, lightly swirl in the crème fraîche, top with the brussels sprout leaves, and sprinkle with black sesame seeds.