3-to-3 1/2-pound butternut squash
tablespoons canola oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
cup thinly sliced leeks
cup thinly sliced carrots
cup thinly sliced shallots
cup thinly sliced onions
garlic cloves, smashed
cups vegetable stock, more if needed
Bouquet Garni made of 8 sprigs thyme, 2 sprigs Italian parsley, 2 bay leaves and 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns, all wrapped in a packet made of 2 green leek leaves
cup crème fraîche
Freshly grated nutmeg
tablespoons unsalted butter
tablespoon minced chives
Extra-virgin olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a small baking sheet with aluminum foil. Cut the neck off the squash and set it aside. Cut the bulb in half and scoop out and discard seeds. Brush each half inside and out with about 1 1/2 teaspoons of the canola oil. Sprinkle the cavities with salt and pepper and tuck a sprig of sage into each. Place cut-side-down on the baking sheet and roast until completely tender, about 1 hour. Remove the squash from the oven and let cool, then scoop out and reserve the flesh (discard sage).
- Meanwhile, using a paring knife, peel away the skin from the neck of the squash until you reach the bright orange flesh. Cut the flesh into 1/2-inch pieces (you should have about 4 cups).
- Put the remaining canola oil in a stockpot over medium-high heat, add the leeks, carrots, shallots and onions and cook, stirring often, for about 6 minutes. Add the diced squash, garlic, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook gently for 3 minutes, reducing the heat as necessary to keep the garlic and squash from coloring. Stir in the honey and cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the stock and bouquet garni, bring to a simmer and cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until the squash is tender.
- Add the roasted squash and simmer gently for about 30 minutes for the flavors to blend. Remove from the heat and discard the bouquet garni. Transfer the soup to a blender, in batches, and purée. Strain the soup through a fine sieve into a bowl. Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning. Let the soup cool, then refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Place the crème fraîche in a small chilled bowl and stir in nutmeg to taste. Whisk until the crème fraîche holds a shape. Cover and refrigerate.
- Gently reheat the soup until just hot. If it is too thick, add a little more vegetable stock. Heat a medium skillet over high heat. When it is very hot, add the butter and rotate the skillet over the heat as necessary to brown the butter evenly, scraping up any bits that settle in the bottom. As soon as the butter is a hazelnut brown, pour it into the pot of soup — keep a safe distance, it may sputter — then stir.
- Ladle the soup into six serving bowls. Top each with a dollop of crème fraîche. Grind some black pepper over the top and sprinkle on the chives. Drizzle a little olive oil over the top.