This simple, smooth-as-silk butternut squash puree is a true mouthful of fall. During the dead of winter, its bright golden hue and deep, sweet flavor are most welcome.
Before you start - if you can't find creme fraiche, substitute heavy cream, which will contribute a similar flavor although not quite the same texture. The correct amount of salt really brings out the sweetness of the squash in this recipe. Don't be scared; add a little at a time and you'll be amazed at how it rounds out the flavor.
Tip: This can be made up to a day ahead and kept in the refrigerator. Warm the soup gently on the stove, covered.
2 medium butternut squash (about 6 lbs)
6 Tbsp unsalted butter
6 Tbsp pure maple syrup, Grade B for strongest flavor
3 tsp coarse kosher salt, plus more to taste
4 Tbsp creme fraiche
4 - 6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
2 Tbsp maple syrup whisked into 1/4 cup creme fraiche for garnish, as desired
Preheat oven to 350. Using a large, sharp knife, cut the squash lengthwise down the middle. Scoop out the seeds. Place the squash halves, flesh side up, in a 9 x 13" baking dish. Put a Tbsp of butter and a Tbsp of maple syrup in each cavity. Sprinkle each half with 1/4 tsp of the salt. Cover the pan with foil. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours or until the squash is very soft. Cool just until the squash can be handled.
Carefully pour any liquid from the squash cavities into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade or a blender and then scoop all the pulp into the food processor. Add the remaining Tbsp of butter and remaining Tbsp of maple syrup, remaining tsp of salt and creme fraiche. Puree until completely smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the food processor as necessary.
Transfer the puree to a medium saucepan, whisk in about 2 cups of the stock to start, and heat through over medium heat. Thin with the additional stock and adjust seasoning to taste. Swirl 1 Tbsp of maple creme fraiche into each bowl of soup.