Winter Squash, Leek and Apple Soup

Roasting the squash before adding it to the soup concentrates its flavor for this straightforward starter. Both the soup and the Cider Crème Fraîche can be made up to two days ahead.
  • 1 large winter squash (4½ lb.), halved, seeds removed
  • 1 tart apple, peeled, cored, and quartered
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 2 medium leeks, white parts only, sliced (2 cups)
  • ½ t. salt
  • 2 pinches ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp.)
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 6 cups vegetable stock or low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 bay leaf
Cider Crème Fraîche
  • ⅓ cup crème fraîche
  • 2 Tbs. apple cider or apple juice

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place squash (cut-side down) and apple quarters in large baking dish. Add 1 cup water, cover, and roast 35 to 40 minutes, or until squash is tender. Cool until squash is easy to handle. Scoop squash flesh from skin; you should have 6 cups.

Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add leeks, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1 pinch of pepper; cook 3 minutes, or until leeks begin to soften. Stir in garlic, then wine; cook 3 minutes, or until pot is nearly dry. Add squash, apple, stock, remaining 1/4 tsp. salt, remaining pinch of pepper, and bay leaf; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes. Remove bay leaf, and purée with immersion blender until smooth and creamy. Cook over low heat 15 minutes.

To make Cider Crème Fraîche: whisk together ingredients in small bowl.  To serve, ladle hot Soup into bowls, and swirl with Cider Crème Fraîche.