Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

While there is always way too much food, I find it hard not to include a warm, smooth and velvety soup to start the meal. This soup can be served in small cups—espresso cups or shot glasses are perfect—and can be sipped either before, or after, everyone is seated at the table.

Ingredients:

4 pounds butternut squash, halved and seeded

1 granny smith apple, peeled, halved, and cored

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Olive oil for brushing squash and apple and for frying sage leaves

7 cups vegetable broth

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons honey

Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

10 fresh sage leaves, cut in half, for garnish (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a large baking pan with parchment paper. 

Brush the cut side of each butternut squash half with olive oil and place it, cut side down, onto prepared pan. Bake for 40 minutes. 

Brush both apple halves with olive oil and add it to pan of squash. Continue to bake squash and apple for 10 minutes, or until squash is tender.

Remove pan from oven and set on a rack to cool for 10-15 minutes, or until squash is cool enough to handle. 

Turn squash over and, using a large spoon, scoop the squash out of skin and place half of it, along with the half the apple, into a food processor or blender. Add 1 cup of broth and process until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a large pot.

Repeat the procedure, processing remaining squash, apple, and 1 cup of broth, adding that to the pot, as well. Stir remaining 5 cups of broth, mustard, and honey into the pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until thoroughly blended and warm. Add salt and pepper, to taste.

In a small frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add sage and fry until crisp, about 1 minute. Remove sage from pan and set on paper towels to drain.

Ladle soup into small cups. Top each cup of soup with 2 crisp sage leaf halves and drizzle with sage oil.

Makes 4 large servings or 12 small servings.

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