Excerpted from Back to the Cutting Board by Christina Pirello
Makes 3 to 4 servings
This soup is the epitome of autumn yumminess. With a bit of sweetness tempered by the crisp flavor of fennel, it’s the perfect starter to any cool-weather feast.
1 small winter squash (preferably butternut or red kuri), enough to yield 2 to 3 cups cubed
Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed for roasting vegetables, plus more for serving
1 fennel bulb, trimmed, diced, leafy fronds reserved for serving
2 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
2 Gala or Fuji apples, unpeeled, cored, and diced
3 to 4 cups spring or filtered water
2 tablespoons white miso
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Halve the winter squash and remove the seeds. Lightly oil your hands and rub the squash halves with oil. Sprinkle the cut sides lightly with salt. Place the squash, cut side down, on a baking sheet and bake, uncovered, until fork-tender, about 40 minutes.
Combine the diced fennel and garlic with a light drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and toss to coat. Arrange on another baking sheet and bake, uncovered (at the same time as the squash), for 30 minutes.
When the squash, fennel, and garlic are tender, transfer to a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Add the apple and water and puree again until smooth. Add water as needed to create a thinner soup as you desire.
Transfer the soup to a saucepan and warm over low heat for 15 minutes. Remove a small amount of broth from the pot and stir it together with the miso until dissolved. Stir the miso back into the soup and simmer, taking care not to boil, for 1 to 2 minutes.
Serve garnished with fresh fennel fronds and, if desired, a light drizzle of fruity olive oil.