In a large soup pot, sauté until nearly tender onions, carrots, celery, and fennel in butter/oil over medium flame, stirring often. Season with salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, garlic, one teaspoon of the thyme, and parsley; cook another minute or two.
Add wine, stir very well, and let cook down two minutes. Add tomato paste and stir. Pour in water and broth; bring to a medium boil and add wild rice. Let cook 45 minutes or until rice is nearly, but not totally tender, adding water if needed to ensure all ingredients are moving freely in the broth. Lower heat to a simmer; add butternut squash and other teaspoon of thyme. Cook another 12-15 minutes or so until both rice and squash are quite tender. Do not overcook. Squash pieces should remain intact. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Stir in half and half or milk, if using. Warm through; do not boil. Taste and adjust seasonings again. Serve hot garnished with toasted pecans.
Cook's Note: This soup improves over night. A few drops of hot sauce might be a happy addition for many people.