Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Squash soup and a formula for success

My husband and I have come up with a can't-fail squash soup recipe that's tweakable, simple, and a joy at the dinner table. You can use any kind of winter squash, and any onion in the onion family (we tend toward leeks). Here's how we do it:

1 medium winter squash
4 medium leeks
4-6 cups chicken or veggie stock
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Spices you prefer (we use curry sometimes, star anise at other times. Experiment!)
Toasted nuts of choice, chopped (we've used toasted almonds, toasted spiced pecans, etc.)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Halve the squash and scoop out the innards. Cut each half into quarters, and peel them with a paring knife or veggie peeler. Cut into 1-inch cubes and place in a large bowl. Drizzle with 1 Tablespoon olive oil and toss to coat well. Arrange in a single layer on 1 or 2 baking sheets. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place baking sheets in oven and roast squash until it is very tender, turning once or twice with spatula. Remove from oven and set aside.

While the squash is roasting, clean leeks, then chop coarsely. Put 2 tablespoons olive oil into a soup pot and heat. Add leeks and saute them until they are golden and tender. Add roasted squash to the sauteed leeks in the soup pot. Cover with chicken broth and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Blend the soup with a stick blender or in a regular blender (in small batches so you don't blow the blender lid off) until it is smooth. If you used a regular counter-top blender, return soup to pot and season with spices you've chosen. Simmer 10 minutes longer. Taste and adjust seasoning. Ladle into mugs or bowls, top with chopped nuts, and serve.

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