Squash and Pistachio Soup
1 pound winter squash, peeled and cut into manageable chunks (banana squash, Hubbard squash, butternut squash, acorn squash or pumpkin)
Preheat oven to 375°. Bake the squash in a lightly oiled pan for 45 minutes, or until fork-tender. If the squash starts to brown, cover the pan lightly with foil.
In a heavy-bottomed 3- to 4-quart saucepan, sauté the leek in half the butter until soft. Add the sugar, the stock and the baked squash. Cover the pan and let the soup cook over low heat for at least one hour, preferably two. Stir the mixture occasionally to prevent sticking and scorching.
Puree the soup in a blender or food processor. If there are strings or fibers, strain the soup through a sieve. Return the soup to a clean pan. The soup can be prepared to this point, refrigerated, and reheated when needed.
Toast the chopped pistachios in a 350° oven or toaster oven for just a couple of minutes, to bring up their aroma. Set them aside.
To finish the soup, bring it to a boil and add the cream, half-and-half or milk. Immediately remove the soup from the heat. Do not let it boil again. Season it to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir in the mushroom-soaking liquid, if desired. Serve soup in espresso cups and garnish with the chopped pistachios and crumbled goat cheese.