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Butternut Squash Soup with Hazelnuts and Hazelnut Oil Recipe

Theirry, of Rovers Restaurant in Seattle, is an amazing chef. His cookbook, Rover's Recipes from Seattle's Chef in the Hat is always a delight to read -- and very fun to try. Theirry has a flair for fancy. But I tend to simply the presentations -- which are designed for his very fancy restaurant patrons. Either way -- his recipes are a delight to cook, and always impress.

Recipes is adapted from Rover's Recipes from Seattle's Chef in the Hat (Ten Speed Press, 2005)

Thierry makes an apple-filled phyllo packet to serve with this soup. I served it with the creme fraiche and a small drizzle of hazelnut oil in each bowl -- and it was wonderful. I did not include the recipe for his apple-phyllo packets, you will have to buy the book for that.

Ingredients:
1 butternut squash (about 1-1/2 pounds)
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons hazelnut or olive oil
1 granny smith apple
3 tablespoons, plus one teaspoon minced shallots
1/4 teaspoon minced hardback garlic
2 pinches minced thyme
4 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup hazelnuts - toasted and coarsely chopped
3 tablespoon Creme Fraiche (or heavy cream)
2 tablespoons hazelnut oil

Directions:
1. Trim the ends from the butternut squash and have it lengthwise. Ue a large spoon to scoop out the seeds and fibrous flesh from the center. Cut the squash into large pieces for easier handling. Use a small knife to peel away the skin carefully from the squash and coarsely chop the flesh.

2. Heat 6 tablespoons of butter and olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until the butter melts and is foamy white. Add the squash and cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to soften but not brown - 5 to 7 minutes. Using a paring knife, peel the skin from the apple so that some of the flesh still clings to the skin. Add the apple skin to the squash with 3 tablespoons of the shallots, the garlic, and a pinch of thyme. Cook, stirring, until the shallots and garlic are tender and aromatic - 5 minutes. Stir in the vegetable stock and simmer until the squash is very tender - 20 minutes. Stir in the hazelnuts, then, working in batches, puree the soup in a lender or food processor, until very smooth. Strain the soup through a fine-mesh sieve and place back into the pan.

3. Just before serving, stir in creme fraiche, and incorporate fully. Taste the soup for seasoning, and add sea salt and freshly ground pepper if necessary. Gently heat over medium heat.

4. To serve, ladle soup into warm, shallow soup bowls. Garnish with drizzle of hazelnut oil. (Thierry recommends also using a garnish of beet coulis -- but I did not do that. I am sure it looks beautiful.)

serves 4
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