Roasting the squash gives this comforting autumn golden soup a lush, velvety texture, and the thyme adds an earthy flavor note. This creamy soup is an ideal canvas for a variety of garnishes. If you like, experiment with omitting the thyme cream and garnish the soup with herbed bread crumbs, a smoky tomato salsa or even a dollop of pesto.
Squash Soup with Thyme Cream
- 1/2 cup (4 oz./125 g) crème fraîche or sour cream
- 1 tsp. minced fresh thyme, plus sprigs for garnish
- Ground white pepper
- 2 large winter squash such as butternut, 3 to 4 lb. (1.75 to 2 kg) total weight, halved and seeded
- 6 Tbs. (3 oz./90 g) unsalted butter
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 5 cups (40 fl. oz./1.25 l) chicken broth
- 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) heavy cream
1. Preheat an oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the crème fraîche, thyme and 1/8 tsp. white pepper. Cover and refrigerate until serving.
3. Place the squash halves, cut side up, on the prepared baking sheet. Put 1 Tbs. of the butter in each squash cavity and season the squash with salt and black pepper. Roast until tender, about 45 minutes. (At this point, the squash can be refrigerated for up to 1 day. Bring to room temperature before proceeding.)
4. In a large saucepan over low heat, melt the remaining 2 Tbs. butter. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes. Scoop the squash flesh out of the skins into the saucepan, then add the broth and stir until smooth. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced by about one-fourth, about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool, uncovered, until just warm.
5. Working in batches if necessary, puree the soup in a blender or food processor or with an immersion blender until completely smooth. (At this point, the soup can stand for up to 1 hour at room temperature or be covered and refrigerated for up to 6 hours.)
6. Strain the soup through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean saucepan and stir in the cream, 1 tsp. salt and a pinch of white pepper. Rewarm the soup over low heat. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
7. Ladle into bowls, gently swirl about 1 tsp. of the thyme cream into the center of each bowl, garnish with thyme sprigs and serve.
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