Having to peel and dice an oddly shaped, tough-skinned butternut squash for soup can be a turnoff, so we simply cut it in half and roast it in the oven. That way, its flavors concentrate without hours of simmering, and the roasted flesh is easily scraped out of the skin. The squash is then quickly simmered with sauteed onion, sage, and tart apple, and blended with a bit of cream.
This recipe from Chow.com takes a bit of time, but is worth it. Roasting any vegetable brings out the best flavors.
If you're having trouble cutting the squash, go to Chow.com and watch a video on microwaving it first and a step-by-step to make the soup.
Feel free to omit the seeds and top the soup with a swirl of sour cream or creme fraiche.
From reading suggestions about this recipe, several cooks added some brown sugar to the mix while others eliminated the sage and used dried herbs in a mix of sage, tarragon and marjoram.
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
4 pounds whole butternut squash (about 2 medium), halved lengthwise and seeds removed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/4 stick)
1 medium Granny Smith apple (about 8 ounces)
1/2 medium yellow onion
8 fresh sage leaves
2 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
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)
1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees and arrange a rack in the middle.
2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the squash pieces cut-side up on the baking sheet. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and brush all of it over the tops and insides of the squash halves (alternatively, you can rub it on evenly with your fingers). Season generously with salt and pepper. Roast until knife tender, about 50 minutes to 1 hour.
3. Meanwhile, peel, core, and cut the apple into medium dice. Cut the onion into medium dice. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the apple, onion, and sage, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 7 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
4. 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 sauteed apples and onions; discard the skins.
5. Add the broth, water, and measured salt and pepper, stir to combine, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally and breaking up any large pieces of squash, until the flavors meld, about 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cream.
6. Using a blender, puree the soup in batches until smooth, removing the small cap from the blender lid (the pour lid) and covering the space with a kitchen towel (this allows steam to escape and prevents the lid from popping off). Alternatively, use an immersion blender. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve garnished with the pumpkin seeds, if using.