I serve this soup as my first course every Thanksgiving. It is a simple soup with lots of flavor. For an added treat, I usually top it with duck confit (duck thighs that have been browned in duck fat and shredded) or browned diced ham and a little creme fraiche. Once you try this, you too will make it a staple on your Thanksgiving table.
Serves 10-12 cups OR 6-8 large bowls.
3 lbs butternut or any seasonal squash peeled, seeds removed, and cut into large pieces (for easy skin removal, cut in half, remove seeds, cover in plastic wrap and microwave until slightly soft— Please note, many grocery chains now sell squash already peeled and cut up. This is a great time saver when preparing for large groups.)
2 medium yellow onions, peeled and cut into quarters
4 carrots, peeled and cut into large pieces
2 granny smith apples (although any apples that you happen to have on hand will work too), peeled and cut into quarters
1/4 cup vegetable or olive oil + 1/2 tablespoon salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 quarts chicken stock
3 sprigs each: fresh thyme, and fresh sage
2 dried bay leaves
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1/2 tablespoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a sheet pan with foil.
Toss onions, apples, carrots, and squash with olive oil in large bowl. Place in even layer on sheet pan and sprinkle with salt.
Bake for 15- 20 minutes. Then cover with foil and bake an additional 10 minutes. Vegetables should be soft.
Remove vegetables from oven and set pan aside.
In large heavy pot add 1 1/2 quarts of chicken stock. Reserve half of one quart for later use.
Heat on medium and add fresh thyme and sage. Reduce temperature and allow to simmer for at least 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, place roasted vegetables into blender 1-2 cups at a time. Add some of the reserved chicken stock to each batch for easy blending, Blend on low until smooth velvety consistency. If using an immersion stick/blender, simply add all vegetables and remaining stock to pot with chicken stock and blend.
Pour blended vegetables into chicken stock. Add butter, ginger, nutmeg, salt, cayenne pepper, and bay leaves. Stir. Allow soup to simmer on low for an additional 30 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaves, thyme stems, and whole sage leaves.
Remove soup from heat and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes. Slowly whisk in heavy cream (optional).
Return to pot to lowest stove setting. Soup is ready to serve.