Squash is my favourite fall vegetable. Look for golden hubbard or acorn squash for the best results. For the spiced hazelnuts, we use local Big Leaf Maple Syrup.
1 large squash, peeled and cubed
1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
Salt and pepper
8 cups (2 L) chicken or vegetable stock
2 tbsp (30 mL) fresh sage, chopped
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
1 tbsp (15 mL) garlic, minced
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) allspice
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) nutmeg
1/2 cup (125 mL) whipping or sour cream
Place cubed squash on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper. Place in a 350° F oven for 30 minutes or until soft and just starting to brown.
Transfer to a soup pot and cover with stock (or water). Add sage, onion, celery, garlic, allspice and nutmeg. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Purée the soup with a hand blender (or in batches with a blender or food processor). Add cream, check seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper to taste. For a finer soup you can strain with a fine sieve to remove any bits of charred flesh and unprocessed chunks. Add the cream and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
To serve, ladle soup into bowls and top with a little drizzle of cream or sour cream and garnish with chopped spiced hazelnuts.
Maple Spiced Hazelnuts
1 cup (250 mL) hazelnuts
1 tsp (5 mL) paprika
1 tsp (5 mL) chili powder (or hot sauce)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp (15 mL) maple syrup
Place hazelnuts on a tray and bake in a 350° F oven for about 5 minutes, or until lightly browned (be careful: they will burn easily). Transfer to a clean kitchen towel and rub with your hands to remove as much of the papery skin as possible.
Return the nuts to the clean baking tray and season with the paprika, chili powder, salt and pepper. Drizzle syrup over top and toss to coat. Return to the oven for an additional 2–3 minutes. Remove from oven, stir again to evenly coat the nuts and transfer to a bowl to cool. When cool, coarsely chop and set aside until needed.