This is by no means a foodie blog. My food photos aren’t pretty enough and I don’t spend most of every day in the kitchen. Nor do I have all the gizmos and gadgets and pretty work surfaces and good lighting. Nevertheless, I do cook good stuff.
Here is my favorite fall soup hands down (and I love soups—my kids say I specialize in soups and stews). I present it here because some friends on Facebook have been asking for it. Incidentally, I never measure when cooking this. I don’t think it’s possible to screw this up.
Butternut Squash and Leek Soup
This soup makes a wonderful fancy starter for a holiday meal, but also serves as an easy, earthy weeknight dinner when paired with a salad and bread.
3 lbs. butternut squash
4 tablespoons butter (or olive oil with a tablespoon of butter for flavor)
3 large leeks, washed well, halved, and chopped.
6 fresh thyme sprigs, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 oz. cooked bacon, chopped (or fake bacon, or omit entirely)
2 quarts chicken or vegetable broth
2 teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ cup sour cream
2 tablespoons chopped chives
Slice the squash in half and scrap out the seeds. Cook the butternut squash, cut side down, in a baking pan with a little olive oil in it, in the oven at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes. I usually turn the oven off and let the oven cool with the squash still in there. Cooking the squash well is the difference between this recipe being easy and fighting for your soup; and cooking the squash early in the day makes this next part nicer: Scrape the cooked squash from its skin.
Let’s take just a tiny moment and contemplate the humble leek. Leeks are WONDERFUL! Seriously, why aren’t leeks in everything?! Just be sure to wash them well, because soil can get trapped among the layers of the plant as it grows.
In a large pot, melt butter (or heat olive oil) over low heat. Add the chopped leeks and thyme and cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are soft and browned, approximately 40 mins. If you get distracted and/or have the heat too high, they may burn. Trust me on that. Discard thyme stems, if you used fresh thyme.
In a frying pan, cook the bacon until crispy, drain the fat, and chop the bacon into crumbles.
Put broth, squash, and salt into the pot with the cooked leeks. Simmer over moderate heat about 20 minutes. With handheld blender, puree soup until it’s smooth. Add pepper.
Serve soup warm with 1 teaspoon sour cream, some bacon crumbles, and some chives in each bowl. Serves 6, or so.
My friend Sonya tried this recipe last night and she thinks it’s the thyme that makes it awesome. Her teenage exchange student from Germany liked it so much he reheated it this morning and ate it for breakfast. That’s quite an endorsement, I think!
Recipe is adapted from Food & Wine Books, Soups and Stews, 1994.