October 12th, 2013

cafela: (salt is magical)
It's finally starting to feel like fall, and that means it is the best time to try out new soup recipes. I love this soup; the recipe is based heavily on one by Cook's Illustrated. While most butternut squash soups are sweet, this one is not. It's similar to the first soup recipe I posted, the French Vegetable soup, but I like this one better, and it is much quicker to make.

A quick note: if you don't have butternut squash handy, any similarly orange/slightly sweet squash will work, including pumpkin. If you want your soup to have a slight sweetness to it, increase the amount of squash and decrease the amount of potatoes by the same amount.

Savory Butternut Squash Soup
1 3/4 pounds butternut squash--seeded, peeled, and cut into 2-inch chunks (about 4 1/2 cups or one 2-lb squash)
1 pound potatoes (I used yukon gold)--peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks (about 2 cups)
2 tb butter
salt and pepper
1 large leek or 2 smaller leeks, dark green top part cut off, sliced thin, washed thoroughly
1 shallot, diced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
4 cups chicken broth (veggie broth can be substituted)
1-2 cups water
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese (plus more for garnish if desired)
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
pinch cayenne pepper
1/4 cup cream (or creme fraiche if you can get it) --You can omit this if you want.

Vital tools: immersion blender OR regular blender

First, prep your ingredients, particularly the squash and potatoes. Place squash and potatoes in microwave safe bowl, and microwave for 14 minutes. Stir halfway through the microwave time. I used the microwave time to prep the rest of the ingredients.

Next, melt butter in dutch oven/heavy duty soup pot, over medium-high heat. Add leeks, squash, potatoes, shallot, garlic, and 2 tsp salt. Cook, sometimes stirring, for about 14 minutes, until the potatoes and squash break down and the bottom of the pot begins to develop a fond (basically, browned residue from the cooked veggies).

At this point, add the broth, and stir while scraping the bottom of the pot to release the fond. Add 1 cup of water (and up to 1 cup more if you want a thinner soup). Add cheese, thyme, bay leaf, and cayenne. Increase heat and bring everything up to a high simmer. Reduce heat to medium and cook at least 10 more minutes. You can cook up to 30 minutes more if you want to continue to develop the flavors, but you don't have to.

Remove and discard the bay leaf and the thyme. Process soup using either immersion blender or working in batches with a regular blender. Return soup to the pot and bring up to a simmer again. Stir in cream/creme fraiche. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with drops of cream or with more parmesan cheese. Serves 6-8.

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