butternut squash soup

4-5 pounds whole butternut squash (about 2 medium), halved lengthwise and seeds removed
2 tablespoons butter (1/4 stick)
1 medium Granny Smith apple
1/2 medium yellow onion
8-9 fresh sage leaves
2 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
2 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
1/3 cup half and half
Dash of cayenne pepper (optional)
1/2 cup toasted pepitas, for garnish (optional)

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

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the squash halves cut-side up on the baking sheet. Lightly score the top with a knife. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and brush it over the tops and insides of the squash. Season generously with salt and pepper. Roast until knife tender, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, peel, core, and cut the apple into medium dice. Cut the onion into medium dice.

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the apple, onion, and sage, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Once the squash is ready, remove from the oven and let sit 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, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the half and half.

Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Add a dash of cayenne pepper if you’d like to add a little heat to the soup.

Serve garnished with the pepitas seeds.

Serves 6-8