Months ago I got over being intimidated by butternut squash and recently embraced acorn squash also. This may not seem like a big deal to some, but I never had a clue what to do with these multicolored, corrugated vegetables.
Together, these squash make a fantastic soup perfect with a mixed green salad on a cold, rainy night. There are surprise ingredients to provide brightness and depth to the flavor.
This recipe is not one to be made after work for busy families, but best created if you have time on a day off. It took me 1 hour and 26 minutes total elapsed time in the kitchen, though not all was spent on the soup preparation. It requires more than one pot.
Preheat the oven to 350° for at least 30 minutes.
Brush the squash with a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and place cut side down on a baking sheet. Hide a clove of garlic and a sprig of thyme in the cavity under each half. Roast the squash until fork tender and a little caramelized, about 35 to 45 minutes.
While the squash is roasting, add a little olive oil to a heavy soup pot and "sweat" (cool term real chefs use) the onion, celery, and leek for about 10 minutes until soft, but not brown.
Meanwhile, in another pot, heat the broth with the cinnamon stick to boiling, then simmer while diced vegetables are cooking. I found that scooping out the roasted squash the most difficult step as it was very hot to handle. After combinations of messy hot pads, oven mitts, and a kitchen towel, I settled on holding the squash down with a wooden spoon, so as not to tear the skin too much, and scraping the flesh out with a sharp knife. If anyone out there has a better way, please share it with me and I will pass it on.
Add the squash flesh and roasted garlic to the soup pot with the other vegetables. Add 4 cups of hot broth and the cinnamon stick. Simmer the soup for about 15 minutes. Add more hot broth to reach desired consistency. I left it on the thick side.
Purée the soup in batches. If you are using a blender, make sure the top is on tight. Strain the soup through a sieve into a clean pot, pushing it through with a large spoon. Add the apple cider vinegar and the maple syrup, then season to taste with salt and pepper.
This soup is amazing. I admit to serving it with croutons.