For the soup:
3 small whole butternut squash, cut in half and seeded
4 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
2 medium apples, diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
2 Tbsp Sage leaf
1 Tbsp dried thyme
1 quart vegetable broth (or chicken, if you prefer)
1 Cup buttermilk
1-1/2 Cups half and half
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
Zest of one small lemon (1 Tbsp lemon zest)
Sea Salt and ground Black Pepper, to taste
For the Fennel Pollen Cream:
1-1/2 Cups sour cream
4 Tbsp half and half
1 Tbsp Fennel Pollen
Make the soup:
Place squash, cut side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet that has been lightly coated with olive oil. Roast for 35-45 minutes or until fork tender, in a 400F oven. Remove baking sheet from oven and allow to cool for at least 30 min.
In a heavy dutch oven over medium-high heat, add 3 Tbsp olive oil and heat until surface of the oil shimmers. Add chopped onion and saute until translucent, about 7 min. Add chopped apples and garlic, and saute an additional 5 min, stirring frequently. Add sage and thyme to the pan, and stir to combine. Reduce heat to medium.
Scoop out the insides of the roasted, cooled butternut squash, and add to the mixture in the dutch oven. Add broth to the pot and stir to combine. Raise heat to medium-high again to bring mixture to a low boil, then reduce to a simmer.
Allow soup to simmer for 15 minutes, covered, and remove from heat. Carefully (because hot soup can blow the lid off your blender and scald you!) purée soup in batches in a blender until well combined. Alternatively, use an immersion or “stick” blender to turn ingredients into a smooth mixture.
If using a standard blender, pour pureed soup back in the original pan, and add buttermilk, half and half, butter, remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil, lemon zest and sea salt and pepper. Gently stir to incorporate dairy ingredients into the soup. Adjust seasonings as necessary.
Make the Fennel Pollen Cream:
In a medium bowl, whisk together sour cream, half and half, fennel pollen and a pinch of sea salt. Stir to combine until creamy, adding more half and half to thin, if desired.
To serve: Ladle the soup into individual serving bowls. Put a dollop of the Fennel Pollen cream on top of each bowl, and garnish with a pinch of fennel pollen. Serve immediately.