1 2 ½-pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into ¾-inch cubes

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 small yellow onion, diced

1 stalk celery, diced

2 tablespoons white wine

1 ½ quarts water

1 bay leaf

1 sprig thyme

1 sprig Italian parsley

2 tablespoons heavy cream

¼ cup fresh sage leaves

1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons pine nuts

2 tablespoons grated Parmegiano-Reggiano

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

 

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Toss together the butternut squash and 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large bowl. Spread on a baking tray and roast for about 45 to 50 minutes, or until tender.

 

Heat a large, heavy pot over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pot. Add the onion and celery and sauté for 8 to 9 minutes, or until soft. Add the wine and simmer for a minute or so, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan with a heat-proof spatula. Add the butternut squash, water, bay leaf, thyme, parsley, and cream and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the flavors come together.

 

Meanwhile, combine the sage, garlic, pine nuts, Parmegiano, and the remaining ¼ cup of oil in a food processor and pulse until smooth.

 

Discard the bay leaf, thyme sprig, and parsley sprig from the soup, remove from the heat, and puree with an immersion blender until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls, drizzle with the pesto, and serve immediately.

 

Serves 6 as a first course. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can use a regular blender but remember: never fill a blender more than half way with hot liquid. This means you will need to blend the soup in batches and reheat it before serving. Fall flavors dance in a bowl of soup. Sage pesto with a generous amount of olive oil floats as a brilliant emerald garnish on the surface of the soup and adds needed richness, elevating the simple pottage to delicious heights. Pass the remaining pesto at the table for diners to stir into their soup as they desire. Leftover sage pesto, should there be any, would be great on turkey sandwiches.