Serves 4 to 6
3 pounds winter squash (such as kabocha, acorn, or butternut), peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large or 2 medium Spanish onions, chopped (2 cups)
Sea salt or kosher salt
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 quart vegetable stock, or water
½ cup apple cider or apple juice
Freshly ground black pepper
For bouquet garni
1 small handful celery leaves
3 to 4 fresh sage leaves
One 2-inch piece cinnamon stick
3 whole cloves
For spiced crÃ©me fraiche
½ cup crÃ©me fraiche or sour cream
Freshly grated nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly ground cinnamon
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 400Â°F. Toss the squash with the oil, season lightly with salt, and spread on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast, turning several times, until the squash is tender and lightly caramelized, 25 to 30 minutes.
While the squash is roasting, in a heavy, 3 to 5 quart soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onions and ½ teaspoon of salt and cook, stirring, for a minute or two. Stir in the ginger and garlic, cover the pot, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook gently for 15 minutes, stirring once or twice and lowering the heat if necessary to keep the vegetables from browning. Pour in the stock or water, and the apple cider or juice, and add the roasted squash.
To make the bouquet garni, bundle the ingredients in a square of cheesecloth and tie it closed with kitchen twine.
Add the bouquet garni to the soup. Raise the heat to bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to as low as possible, cover, and cook for 20 minutes. Discard the bouquet garni and pass the soup through the fine holes of a food mill (or puree using an immersion blender or working in batches in a hand blender).
In a bowl, combine the crÃ©me fraiche with 5 or 6 gratings of nutmeg, several grinds of black pepper, and a pinch of salt.
Serve the soup in bowls with a dollop of the spiced crÃ©me fraiche, a dash of cinnamon, and a sprinkling of parsley.
Stop and Take Stock.
Making a simple vegetable soup? Take stock of the trimmings, and the other vegetables you have on hand and consider simmering them into a flavorful broth to enhance the flavor and nutrient-content of your soup. In a stockpot, combine 6 cups of any of the following: squash and ginger peels, mushroom stems, cabbage cores, parsley stems, chopped carrots, celery, onions, mushrooms, leeks, parsnips, fennel, and garlic (cut a whole heat in half crosswise, and leave the peels on). Add a couple bay leaves, and some fresh thyme, or sage, cover with water, bring to a simmer, skim off any foam that rises, then simmer gently, uncovered, for an hour. Strain and use right away or refrigerate for up to 2 days.
© Recipe Property of Peter Berley