Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

I was always on the lookout for new soups to make for Mama, even though I was not the soup fan she was. We both liked this autumn yumminess.

Ingredients

4 pounds whole butternut squash (about 2 medium), halved lengthwise and seeds removed (for easier halving, cut stem end off first)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium Granny Smith apples
1 medium yellow onion
8 fresh sage leaves
Salt, pepper. Pinch each of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger
4 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
1 cup water
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup heavy cream or coconut milk
(optional) 1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds, avocado, sage leaves, sour cream for garnish

Instructions

Heat the oven to 425°F and place rack in the middle.

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the squash pieces cut-side up on the baking sheet. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and brush all of it over the tops and insides of the squash halves (alternatively, you can rub it on evenly with your fingers). Season generously with salt and pepper. Roast until knife tender, about 50 minutes to 1 hour.

Meanwhile, peel, core, and cut the apples into medium dice. Cut the onion into medium dice. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the apple, onion, and sage, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 7 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

When the squash is ready, set the baking sheet on a wire rack until the squash is cool enough to handle. Using a large spoon, scoop the flesh into the saucepan with the sautéed apples and onions; discard the skins.

Add the broth, water, and measured salt and pepper, stir to combine, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally and breaking up any large pieces of squash, until the flavors meld, about 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cream.

Using a blender, purée the soup in batches until smooth, removing the small cap (the pour lid) from the blender lid and covering the space with a kitchen towel (this allows steam to escape and prevents the blender lid from popping off). Alternatively, use an immersion blender or VitaMix.

Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve with garnish(es) if desired.