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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Butternut Squash Soup

This is one of my most favorite soups. It's great in the fall, when butternut squash are in season. Mildly sweet, it's perfect for those cool nights (or even when it's still warm). I like it with lots of black pepper, as a counterpoint to the sweetness of the squash. It's a simple yet elegant recipe; you can't mess this one up, it's just too easy.

Butternut Squash Soup
4 leeks, rinsed and chopped *see note on how to clean and rinse a leek below*
1 butternut squash (2-3 pounds), cut into 1-inch chunks
1 bay leaf
3/4 teaspoon salt
5 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup shelled raw pumpkin seeds (optional)
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons olive oil
Black pepper, to taste

Place the leeks, squash, bay leaf, salt, and broth in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer gently until the squash is tender, about 12 minutes. Let cool for at least 10 minutes. Discard the bay leaf. Puree the soup in batches and rewarm over medium-low heat.

Meanwhile,roughly chop pumpkin seeds and rosemary on a cutting board. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the seeds and rosemary, stirring occasionally until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with the seeds and rosemary. Sprinkle with black pepper, to taste.

*How to Clean and Rinse a Leek
Leeks are often very dirty in between the layers, especially if you buy them from a farmer's market. To clean them without making a huge mess, this is an easy way:
Cut off the dark green part of the leek, and peel one layer off the outside. Then slice the leek lengthwise, almost all the way to the root, but do not cut through it. Rinse the leek under cold running water to remove the dirt between layers. It won't fall apart because you haven't cut it all the way down, but you can separate the layers with your fingers as your rinse.

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