(Ph. © Mark Jordan)December it may be, but it's not officially winter for another two weeks. All the more reason to enjoy autumn favorites such as butternut squash soup. Chef Franklin Becker's superlative take on the classic fall specialty is featured in his new cookbook Good Fat Cooking, a roundup of heart-healthy meals that are wholesome yet satisfying and showcase the best of the season. Served on a chilly weeknight, this version gets an instant upgrade thanks to a dollop of fresh walnut pesto. "The pesto adds layers of flavor from herbs, funkiness from cheese, and crunch from the nuts—so the one-dimensional, everybody-makes-it standby is now a lot more interesting," says Becker. Another welcome addition? Sharp Pecorino in place of Parmesan. Try it on your own table and let us know how it turns out @Lonnymag.
Butternut Squash Soup with Walnut Pesto
For the soup:
-- 6 pounds butternut squash, halved lengthwise
-- 1 quart water
-- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
-- 3 tablespoons honey
-- 6 tablespoons butter
-- 2 tablespoons salt
-- 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
-- 1 tablespoon freshly grated nutmeg
-- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
-- 2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
For the pesto:
-- ¼ cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
-- 2 tablespoons grated pecorino cheese
-- 1 tablespoon walnut oil
-- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
-- 1 teaspoon chopped sage
-- salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the squash (with seeds) cut side down in a roasting pan and fill with the water. Roast until the skin is completely blistered and the squash is fork-tender, about 45 minutes. Let cool.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the walnuts, cheese, walnut oil, parsley, sage, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
Scoop the flesh and seeds from the squash and transfer them to a large bowl. Add the maple syrup, honey, butter, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon juice, and pepper. Working in batches, puree the mixture in a blender until smooth. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with the pesto.