Have you ever watched Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares?

Here it’s called Cauchemar en Cuisine and the Ramsay version plays on Sundays – British and American versions – from about 5 – 7:30 with the type of dubbing where you can hear the English being spoken under the French. The type they use for newscasts. It drives my crazy.

The husband and I love the show. It’s one of those reality TV guilty pleasures where you know half of it is staged but you can’t get enough.

So you can imagine my delight when M6 began their own French series of Cauchemar en Cuisine, complete with their own version of Ramasy in the guise of Philippe Etchebest. That link is in French by the way. He’s a two starred chef and former Rugby player.

Mr. Etchebest is far tamer than Ramsay, but that’s not too surprising. Nor is it surprising that in the program’s first season, I haven’t seen one dirty, disgusting kitchen. I think the French are too self-conscious for that. However, what I did see on Tuesday night when I sat down to watch my new favorite program – at least until Top Chef saison 3 begins next week – was a fabulous recipe idea.
Imagine this:  
Roasted garlic
butternut squash
aged Parmesan
1 wonderfully poached egg
a sprinkling of sage

Equals the perfect way to spice up butternut squash soup.

The original recipe called for cèpes – a type of wild mushroom, croutons, egg, and a Parmesan chantilly. The original recipe used an entire stick of butter and an entire cup of heavy whipping cream.

So unnecessary.

The original recipe didn’t have garlic. Mine does and it’s fabulous.

Roasted Garlic Butternut Squash Soup with Poached Eggs and Parmesan
Inspired by Phillipe Etchebest

  • 1 garlic bulb, separated into cloves
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, chopped into cubes. The squash I used was about 1/3 the size of a normal squash. When I weighed it after peeling, seeding, cubing, it was just under 500 grams.
  • ½ white onion diced
  • 2 tblsp Olive oil
  • 2.5 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 eggs
  • 40 grams of aged 24 months, Parmesan

First the cheese. When I cook with Parmesan I go all out. Trust me and spend the money on the cheese. Aged Parmesan cannot be beat in texture and taste. Salty and tart, it piques on the tongue and leaves a pleasant, sharp after taste that is better than any cheddar.

Preheat your oven to 200°C. In a baking dish separate your garlic bulb into its cloves and toss with a bit of olive oil. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 40 minutes or until very mushy and tender.

In the meantime, prepare your soup. In the bottom of a large pot heat up the olive oil and cook the onion over high heat for about 2-3 minutes or until fragrant. Add you squash and broth. Bring to a boil. Stir, add salt and pepper, cover and simmer until squash is completely tender.

Foggy soup goodness.

When both garlic and squash are cooked, and the garlic has cooled down enough so you can remove the skin, pour everything into a blender and blend until smooth. Add some sage. Pour back into your pot, cover and keep warm.

Slice up some Parmesan, set aside.

Now the hard part. Poaching an egg is easy, but difficult at the same time. It’s not just about cooking the egg, but getting the look. Making sure you don’t crack the yolk, that there’s enough of the white to form a nice base around said yolk. Putting it in and taking it out of the softly boiling water without destroying everything.

I recommend this website as a guide: How to Poach an Egg.  It covered the basics pretty well.

While your egg is poaching, ladle your soup into the bowl, have the Parmesan ready, because this needs to be served immediately.

Take your egg out of the water and gently lay it into the soup. Top with Parmesan. Serve.

Honestly, I knew the Parmesan would work but I wasn’t too sure of the egg. Eggs taste like eggs. This we agree on. And the addition of the egg to this soup added flavor and texture. Though the taste of an egg is simple, layered with the soup and cheese it was like eating a complex, wintry breakfast.

So I served it with homemade home fries. They were yummy too.
Thanks to M. Etchebest (pronounced Etch-eh-best) for his fabulous idea. Who knows what happened to the restaurant he was trying to help, but he has made this little American amateur extremely happy.