2-3 small winter squash Sweet Dumpling or 1 large butternut
2 tbsp. olive oil, plus a bit more for rubbing on the squash before roasting
3 medium leeks, cleaned and sliced (white part only) (Save the greens for the stock)
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium potato, peeled and diced
1 carrot (for stock), peeled and roughly chopped
4 parsley branches for stock, plus 1 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
6-8 fresh sage leaves (or a pinch dried)
1/2 tsp. dried thyme (or a bit of fresh thyme, if you have it on hand)
2 quarts water for stock
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp. cream or half and half (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Cut squash in half. Scoop out seeds and strings and set aside. Lightly rub squash with olive oil, then place cut-side down on the foil-lined baking pan. Roast for approximately 30-40 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when a fork goes through it easily.
Meanwhile, take the seeds and strings you set aside and put them in a large saucepan or small stock pot. Add about a cup of the green part of the leeks (rinsed and chopped roughly), 1 chopped carrot, the 4 parsley branches and a teaspoon of salt. Add 6-8 cups of water. (You will need 4-5 cups of stock for the soup. I usually like to make a bit more stock than I need so I’ll have extra, either to thin the soup with if necessary or to use for something else like risotto.) Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for approx. 30 minutes (or until your squash is roasted and you’re ready to make the soup).
Strain out the vegetables and set the broth aside. While your squash is roasting and your stock simmering, you can start the vegetables. Heat the olive oil in a soup pot and add the leeks and onion. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until soft. Add the garlic, making sure it doesn’t brown or burn. Add the diced potato and your herbs (parsley, thyme and sage). Once your squash is out of the oven and cool enough to touch, scoop the roasted squash out of the skin and add it to the onion/leek/garlic/potato. (Make sure the burner is on low while you’re doing this so nothing sticks or scorches.) Then add about 4 cups of stock to the pot. If it looks too thick, you can add another cup. Bring to a boil, then lower and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
At this point, I puree the soup in the pot with my immersion blender. You could also use a regular blender or a food processor if that’s what you have. (But really, if you plan on making a lot of soup or sauce in the future, an immersion blender is an invaluable kitchen tool.) Add salt and pepper to taste. If you want to add a bit of cream or half and half, it’s a delicious variation. You can also thin it further with more stock if it’s still too thick.
A few notes: use whatever squash you have on hand. If you only have a big butternut squash, use that–the only difference is that you might have to let it roast longer in the oven. If you’re not partial to sage and parsley, feel free to change up the herbs. Squash goes well with ginger and lemongrass and Asian flavors also, for example. If you don’t have any leeks, use 2 or 3 onions instead. If there are no leek greens in your in your stock, then use an onion there as well.
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