Instructions: 1. PUMPKIN: 2-pound piece of pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled and seeded. Preheat oven to 400F. Loosely wrap the pumpkin in foil and bake until soft, 40 to 60 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool. Cut the pumpkin into 1/2-inch dice.
2. SOUP: Heat oil in large saucepan. Add the onion and fennel and cook until soft and translucent but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add 4 cups of the broth and all the milk, season with salt and pepper and add the roasted pumpkin. Gently simmer until the fennel is soft, about 20 minutes.
Transfer the soup to a blender and puree until smooth, adding additional broth as needed to obtain a soup like consistency. Return the soup to the saucepan and reheat, adding salt and pepper to taste.
3. FRIED SAGE: Stem the leaves. Wash and dry. Just before serving, heat 1/4 cup olive oil (or as needed) in a small frying pan or saucepan, to 350F. Add the sage leaves and fry until lightly browned and crisp, about 1 minute. Transfer the sage leaves with a wire skimmer to paper towels and drain. Blot dry with more paper towels. See variations.
4. TO SERVE: Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with sage and fennel leaves, accompany with crusty bread.
Makes 7 to 8 cups enough to serve 6.
Variations: Garnish with fresh sage leaves, chiffonade. Or substitute Bake Fried Sage Leaves. See recipe.
Pumpkins are in the store.
Always need to add flavor to these early pumpkins - grilling or roasting the pulp. Heres a soup from Raichlens new book of Italian recipes.
SAGE: Seems like a lot of trouble to prepare a garnish but its these little touches that can make a dish special. So.... I will try this one. But with the baked leaves - not the deep fried.
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