This has received the seal of approval by many CSA members, as well as my entire extended family (it's been enjoyed for two Thanksgiving dinners now!). Butternut is always delicious with sage - indeed, it goes well with the thyme and rosemary in your mixed herb bunch, as well. Try roasting your squash cut-side down with herbs and garlic tucked in the cavity and enough water just to prevent burning.


2½ pounds winter squash ¼ cup olive oil, plus extra for the squash 6 garlic cloves, unpeeled 12 whole sage leaves, plus 2 Tbsp. chopped 2 onions, finely chopped chopped leaves from 4 thyme sprigs or ¼ tsp dried ¼ cup chopped parsley salt and freshly milled pepper 2 quarts water or stock ½ cup Fontina, pecorino, or ricotta salata cheese, diced into small chunks

Preheat oven to 375 F. Halve the squash and scoop out the seeds. Brush the surfaces with oil, stuff the cavities with the garlic, and place them cut sides down on a baking sheet. Bake until tender when pressed with a finger, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat the ¼ cup oil until nearly smoking, then drop in the whole sage leaves and fry until speckled and dark, about 1 minute. Set the leaves aside on a paper towel and transfer the oil to a wide soup pot.

Add the onions, chopped sage, thyme and parsley and cook over medium heat until the onions have begun to brown around the edges, 12 -15 minutes. Scoop the squash flesh into the pot along with any juices that have accumulated in the pan. Peel the garlic and add it to the pot along with 1 ½ tsp salt and the water and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, partially covered, for 25 minutes. If the soup becomes too thick, simply add more water to thin it out. Taste for salt.

Depending on the type of squash you've used, the soup will be smooth or rough. Puree or pass it through a food mill if you want a more refined soup. Ladle it into bowls and distribute the cheese over the top. Garnish each bowl with the fried sage leaves, add pepper, and serve.

from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone By Deborah Madison