For this recipe, we recommend using the freshest, highest-quality local ingredients you can find; butter from grass-fed cows and organic vegetables, olive oil, and broth are not only healthier but will also yield delicious results.
1 medium butternut squash
7-8 tablespoons olive oil, divided
tablespoon + ⅛ teaspoon curry powder
1 medium onion, diced
1 fennel bulb, diced, fronts discarded
½ teaspoon chili flakes (or to taste)
1 quart vegetable broth
2 tablespoons butter or ¼ cup cream or ¼ cup vegetable broth (optional)
6 dates, chopped (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Halve the butternut squash. Remove the seeds to a medium bowl and set aside. Cover the squash with 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil so that it's evenly coated and then season with salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon of curry powder. Roast the squash halves, skin side down, on a baking sheet for 45 minutes, until golden brown and tender throughout. Scoop the warm flesh from the skins into a medium bowl. Discard the skins.
2. Separate the reserved seeds from any strings or squash flesh and rinse in a colander. Return the seeds to the bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast at 350°F for 15 minutes, until golden brown. Heat a large stockpot over medium-low heat. Add ¼ cup of olive oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pot. Once the oil has warmed, add the onion, fennel, and a large pinch of salt. (The salt will help draw out water from the vegetables.) Adjust the heat so the vegetables are gently sizzling, stirring occasionally. Keep an eye on the onions to make sure they don't brown.
3. Once the vegetables are softened and translucent, add ⅛ teaspoon of curry powder and the chili flakes and continue to sweat until fragrant. Add a quart of vegetable broth and the roasted squash. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, until the broth takes on the flavor of the squash, about 15 minutes. Blend the squash mixture in a food processor or with an immersion blender until smooth. If you desire a creamier soup, adjust the consistency by adding butter, cream, or an additional ¼ cup of broth and stirring until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Ladle into individual bowls and arnish with the chopped dates and toasted squash seeds.