4 pounds whole butternut squash (about 2 medium), halved lengthwise and seeds removed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/4 stick)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 Granny Smith apple (about 8 ounces) or a large pear, diced
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
8 fresh sage leaves
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds, for garnish (optional)
Sages leaves, for garnish (optional)
1/2 cup mascarpone, for garnish (optional)
Heat the oven to 425°F and position oven rack in the middle.
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the squash pieces cut-side up on the baking sheet.
Combine sugar, cinnamon, salt and pepper in small ramekin, set aside.
Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and rub or brush it over the tops and insides of the squash halves. Season generously with sugar-cinnamon mixture. Roast until knife tender, about 50 minutes to 1 hour.
Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the apple or pear, onion, and sage, season with salt and pepper, and sauté, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 7 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
When the squash is ready, set the baking sheet on a wire rack until the squash is cool enough to handle. Using a large spoon, scoop the flesh into the saucepan with the sautéed apples and onions; discard the skins.
Add the chicken stock, water, and measured salt and pepper, stir to combine, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to a low simmer, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
Carefully decant several cupfuls of soup into food processor container and process until smooth. Repeat in batches until all of soup has been puréed.
Pour puréed soup back into sauce pan, stir in cream, and heat — do not boil. When ready to serve, garnish each bowl with a sage leave and dusting of toasted pumpkin seeds and/or a swirl of mascarpone, if desired.
YIELD: 6 to 8 servings
Photo by © Brent Hofacker – Fotolia.com