Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

This vibrant colored, flavorful soup is an excellent way to use the abundance of butternut squash that is available in the garden, or at local farmer’s markets during this time of year.  Roasting is the key to highlighting the wonderful warm, sweet, rich flavors of the squash, and the fresh sage compliments that flavor beautifully.  Calvados is often found at gourmet food markets, some well stocked liquor stores, and through online retailers.  This soup is excellent served with an apple confit, or alone with a slice of warm, home-made, crusty sourdough bread.

Yield: 16 Servings

5 lb Butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and rough chopped
6 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tsp Salt
1/2 Tsp Fresh ground black pepper
3 cups onion, diced
1 1/2 cups carrot, sliced thin
1 1/2 cups celery, diced
1 1/2 cups leeks, white part only, split length-wise, sliced thin
6 Tbsp minced shallots
2 Tbsp minced garlic
1/4 cup Calvados (French Apple Brandy)
8 cups Low Sodium Chicken Stock
2 Tbsp Pure maple syrup
2 Tbsp chopped fresh sage leaves

Preheat oven to 425F

Place the chopped squash in a large mixing bowl.  Drizzle the squash with olive oil, and lightly season with 1/2 tsp of salt, and 1/4 tsp black pepper.  Line two sheet pans with aluminum foil and place the squash on the pans, distributing it across the pans evenly.  Place the sheet pans into the oven and roast for 30 minutes, or until the squash is lightly caramelized and tender.

Remove the squash from the oven and set aside.  Place a 7-8 quart soup pot over medium high heat and add 1 Tbsp of olive oil and add the onions, carrots and celery.  Sweat, stirring often, for 5 minutes.  Add the leeks, shallots, and garlic and sweat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Deglaze the pan with the Calvados and add 4 cups of chicken stock.  Place the squash in the pan with the maple syrup and sage, and add additional stock until just barely covering the squash.

Bring the pan to a boil and reduce to a simmer.  Cook the soup for 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are all tender.  Use an immersion blender to puree the soup to a smooth consistency.  Alternatively, you can puree the soup in batches in a blender or food processor.  Return the soup to the pan, and simmer over low heat.  Add additional stock to thin the soup to the desired consistency.  Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.  Keep warm until ready to serve.

Apple Confit (optional)

2 1/2 cups of peeled, cored and sliced apples (not too tart in flavor)
1/2 cup Apple juice
1 Tbsp Butter
1 Tbsp Calvados
Crème fraîche (optional)

Melt the butter in a medium saute pan and add the apples.  Saute over medium-high heat, stirring to coat the apples with butter. Once heated through, add the Calvados and cook for 1-2 minutes, until the pan is almost dry.  Add the apple juice, cover, and cook over medium heat for 15-20 minutes, until the apples are soft; cook uncovered for 10 minutes to reduce the liquid.  Mash the apples, making sure the confit retains some texture.  Add a spoonful of apple confit, and a swirl of crème fraîche to each serving of soup.