1 day-old baguette, crusts removed, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Olive oil, as needed
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Preheat an oven to 300ºF. On a baking sheet, arrange bread cubes, brush with oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake until golden, 15 to 20 minutes; cool croutons to room temperature and store in an airtight container until ready to serve.
Fried Vegetable Crisps
Cut a small butternut squash into wedges. With one of the wedges, use a vegetable peeler and remove long, thin strips of the flesh inside the squash along with a little of the skin. In a small saucepan, heat about 1 inch of canola oil to 350ºF, or until a small piece of bread turns brown in 20 to 30 seconds. Add the vegetable slices and deep-fry until crispy. Remove and drain on crumpled paper towels. Season with salt.
Instead of butternut squash, you can use celery root, sweet potatoes, pumpkin or beets.
Roll 3 to 10 firm, fresh herb leaves (such as basil, sage, cilantro or mint) into a tight cylinder and cut crosswise into thin strips. Some tasty oil and herb combinations include extra-virgin olive oil and basil, pumpkin seed oil and sage, and toasted sesame oil and cilantro.
- 1. Croutons
Croutons add a nice crunchy texture to soups and are perfect for absorbing flavorful broth. See recipe above.
- 2. Toasted Ground Nuts
Toasted hazelnuts are a delicious complement to butternut squash soup, or you can substitute pecans, almonds or walnuts. Sprinkle a small amount decoratively over the soup just before serving.
- 3. Fried Vegetable Crisps
Vegetable crisps are a fun garnish for soups. Float them on top or let them dangle over the edge for a dramatic presentation. See recipe above.
- 4. Aromatic Oils and Herb Chiffonade
A drizzle of flavorful oil and fresh herb chiffonade add an elegant look to a soup. Drizzle a small circle of oil, such as extra-virgin olive, pumpkin seed or toasted sesame oil, in the middle of the soup, and garnish the center with a pinch of the herb chiffonade. See instructions above.