4 acorn squash
3/4 cup water
2 tbsp. butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped (optional)
1 1/2 tsp. minced fresh thyme
1 1/2 tsp. minced fresh sage
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 (32-oz.) container chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 to 1/2 cup heavy cream or half-and-half (optional)
Sugar, salt and pepper, to taste
Croutons, for garnish (optional)
Slice off just enough of the stem ends of each squash so the squash stands up straight. Then slice off the top third of each squash. Scoop out the seeds and fibers and discard. Place three tablespoons of water inside each squash. Stand each squash open-end-up on a sheet of foil. Wrap tightly with the foil. Place the squash on a baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees about 45 minutes or until slightly tender when pierced with a fork. Remove the foil and tip the squash over to drain. When squash are cool enough to handle, scrape out the pulp, leaving a 1/4-inch shell, reserving the pulp. This can be done a day in advance. Store the shells and pulp in the refrigerator. Bring the squash and shells to room temperature before making the soup.
Working in small batches, purée the reserved squash in a blender or food processor until smooth, transferring each batch to a large bowl. Melt butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Place the sautéed onion and garlic, thyme, sage and cinnamon in the blender with half of the broth. Puree until smooth. Pour the onion mixture into a large pot. Add the puréed squash. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture is well blended and heated through. Add enough of the remaining broth until the soup is the thickness you prefer. When heated thoroughly, add cream. Taste and add sugar, salt and pepper to taste.
Pour the soup into the acorn squash bowls and top with croutons before serving, if desired.
Note: This recipe is for acorn squash, but any type of winter squash would work. We freeze leftover pieces of cooked acorn, butternut, delicata and carnival squash until we have enough to make a large pot of soup using a mixture of all four varieties.