by Julie Van Rosendaal
Perhaps the main mission of winter squash is to be transformed into soup – it’s a great way to use squash varieties that are harder to handle, and you can save the seeds to toast, chop and sprinkle on top. Use sage or curry powder, depending on your mood.
1 winter squash
canola or olive oil, for cooking
1/4 c. pure maple syrup, divided
2 T. butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tart apple or ripe pear, chopped
1/2 t. sage or curry powder
4 c. chicken stock
1/2 c. whipping cream or 18% coffee cream
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Halve the squash, scoop out the seeds and separate them from the membranes, rinsing them well in a colander. Cut the squash into rough chunks, or, if you’re using butternut, peel it using a vegetable peeler and cut into chunks.
Spread out the pieces or chunks on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with oil and half the maple syrup, and roast at 425°F for 20-30 minutes, or until tender and starting to turn golden. (Don’t worry if they aren’t cooked through yet – you’re just looking for larger pieces to be soft enough to scoop out, or chunks to get a bit of colour.) Toss the rinsed seeds with oil and spread out on a smaller parchment-lined baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and roast alongside, or after the squash comes out, stirring once or twice, for 10-15 minutes, until golden.
In a medium pot or Dutch oven, heat another drizzle of oil along with the butter over medium-high heat. When the foam subsides, add the onion and sauté for 3-4 minutes, until soft. Add the apple or pear along with the sage or curry powder and cook for another minute. Add the roasted squash, scooping the flesh out of the skins if necessary, and the stock, and bring to a simmer; cook for 20-30 minutes, until the squash is very soft. Add the cream and remaining maple syrup, season with salt and pepper and purée in batches in a blender or with a hand-held immersion blender right in the pot, until smooth. Adjust seasoning and serve topped with the toasted seeds, if you like.
Serves 4 to 6.