What is it about the cold rainy weather that puts me in the mood for pecans and butternut squash? Is it conditioning - a habit learned over the years? Or is there really something bone-warming about these winter foods? All I know is that I had a craving for some butternut squash soup last night.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
I still have a pot of sage growing happily on my deck, through the cold, sleet and frost. If you have some handy, go ahead and use it, but don't worry if you don't have any. The soup is amazing even without it. I also must confess that I buy the squash peeled and cubed (my local Costco carries it). Butternut squash is not one of my favorite foods to prepare, so it's one of the few things I allow myself to buy ready-prepped.

1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
2 yellow onions, coarsely chopped (reserve the peel for the stock)
1 apple, preferably Granny Smith, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
2 or 3 carrots
a few stalks of celery
a sweet potato
4 cups water
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 425*. Spread the squash, chopped onions, and apple on a large baking sheet. Be sure they are not overlapping so they don't steam. Toss with the oil. Roast the vegetables for about 1/2 hour, stirring occasionally, till beginning to brown.

While the vegetables roast, rinse the carrots, celery and sweet potato. Put them in a stock pot along with the reserved onion peels and cover with water. Add bay leaves, salt, and black pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer while the vegetables roast.

Strain the stock and discard the cooked vegetables. Pour the stock back into the stock pot, and add the roasted vegetables. (Be sure to scrape the pan really clean so you get all the flavorful glazed bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pan.) Bring the soup to a boil and then lower the heat and simmer on low for about 1/2 hour. Puree in a food processor or with an immersion blender.

Serve immediately or refrigerate and serve later. (This soup also freezes really well.)

I shared this post on Countdown to 2011!