Carlos Baez, the chef at Bella Bru Cafe in Natomas, created this soup—a fall favorite that uses kabocha squash.
3 kabocha squash, halved and seeded (reserve seeds)
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 pinch cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
2 yellow onions, minced
2 celery stalks, minced
3 carrots, minced
2 tablespoons minced garlic
4 cups vegetable stock
4 cups heavy whipping cream
2 ounces white wine
3 tablespoons honey
1 pinch cinnamon
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan
Place squash on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until tender. When cool enough to handle, scoop out the squash flesh and set aside.
Wash and dry the squash seeds. In a dry, heavy skillet, roast the seeds over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until golden, about 4 or 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and stir in 1 tablespoon olive oil, cayenne pepper, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Heat remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add onions, celery, carrots and garlic and sauté until soft. Add the reserved squash flesh, vegetable stock, cream, wine, honey, cinnamon and Parmesan. Using an immersion blender, purée the mixture. Cook over moderate heat until heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with the roasted seeds. Serves 8.