Maple Butternut Squash Soup

The sun came out today and reminded me that I only have a little more time to make winter soups!  So here is a squash soup I’ve been meaning to post for a long time, one that I’ve been making for years.  The baked cauliflower topping, however, is a new addition, and I’m going to make it like this again.

I know that the sticker on your squash probably tells you that the easiest way to cook it is in the microwave.  This may be true, however, I find oven-baking it makes it taste sweeter, and it’s also more satisfying.  Also, you can cook the cauliflower while the squash is baking.

What you need:

1 medium-sized butternut squash

2 tablespoons butter (or olive oil)

2 stalks celery

1/2 large sweet onion (I cry less over sweet onions – you can use a regular one if you wish)

1 red or yellow sweet pepper

1/4 cup white wine (I used riesling)

1/4 teaspoon dry tarragon leaves, crumbled (1/2 teaspoon fresh)

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cloves

3-4 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock

maple syrup to taste

salt to taste, unless your stock already has salt in it

1/4 cup dry sherry – optional but amazing!

1 cauliflower, an optional topping

What you do:

1.  Cut the squash in half, de-seed and lay on a baking sheet.  Bake at 400F for about 30 minutes or until it pierces easily with a knife.  At the same time you can cut the cauliflower into florets and bake for the same amount of time, until browned.

2.  Cook the onion, celery and pepper in butter for several minutes.  Add the spices, then the wine, and cook for a few more minutes.  Add half of the stock and cook for 10-15 minutes, until the vegetables are soft.

3.  When the squash is cooked, allow it to cool enough to be handled.  Puree it, along with a cup of the stock, then add it to the vegetables.

4.  Heat the soup through, then add the maple syrup, sherry, and salt to taste.

5.  Top with chopped roasted cauliflower to serve.

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