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6–7lbs. raw winter squash (such as butternut, buttercup or acorn)
6oz. unsalted butter
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup flour
3 cups milk (1-percent or whole)
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1-1/2 cups heavy cream or half and half
1/2–3/4 cups maple syrup
Salt and white pepper to taste
A pinch of cayenne pepper
Toasted pecans for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a 2-inch-deep baking pan with foil.
When selecting a butternut squash, choose those with long necks. (The “meat” of the squash is found within the neck.) The bottom, round part of the squash is mainly seeds. You will need approximately 3–4 nicely sized squashes for this recipe. Cut each squash in half and remove the seeds with a spoon. Place the squash flesh-side down in the prepared pan. Pour hot water into the pan. You should have about 1-1/2 inches of water in the pan. This will “steam” the squash as it bakes.
Bake squash until a paring knife easily goes through the flesh. This usually takes about one hour, depending on the size of the squash. (Larger squash will take a bit longer.) When done, remove pan from oven and let squash cool for 30 minutes or until it’s cool enough to handle. Using a large spoon, scoop out the meat from each squash and place it in a large bowl. Set aside while you sauté the onion and prepare a roux.
To make the roux, melt the butter in a large soup pot. Once melted, add chopped onion. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until translucent. Add flour and stir constantly for several minutes to cook the flour.
Add the stock, milk, cream or half and half, maple syrup, salt, pepper and a pinch of cayenne pepper to the pot. Add cooked squash. Simmer on low until the squash is very soft, and the soup begins to thicken, about one hour. Stir occasionally and make sure heat isn’t too high so the mixture doesn’t burn. The soup should be on a low simmer for the best results.
When squash is very soft and soup is thickened, remove from heat. Puree the mixture in a blender or food processor.
Taste soup for seasoning. If needed, add more salt and pepper. Depending on the quality of maple syrup, you may need to add a touch more to taste. If the soup seems too thick, simply add a little more milk or stock.
Slowly reheat to your preferred temperature and garnish with toasted pecans.
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