I love butternut squash soup. Love love love. I have been buying the boxed stuff from Whole Foods and putting my own spin on it for years, but this fall… I decided to do it up my way. As tasty as the bright yellow gunk in the carton is, it has plenty of ingredients that have no business being in soup (rice syrup!?) and as you know, I’ve made a lifestyle decision to not eat that crap anymore so this year we’re making our own… and this time, we’re adding fresh leeks.
Please note, while I do not always list it in the ingredients, I do use organic and local vegetables/most food items whenever possible. I realize organic/local veggies can be expensive, so a good policy is just to look for them – if you can’t find it in the store, it means that the item you are looking for is probably out of season and you shouldn’t eat it anyway. If you are splurging on the good stuff, and you have to choose between organic and local (the 2-in-1 is surprisingly hard to find), go for the local option – the fresher the better. While not used in this recipe, I do try to buy organic/antibiotic-free/grass-fed proteins as well (or some combination of the three).
1 whole butternut squash (~3lbs)
1 leek, finely chopped (just the white part)
1 quart sugar-free chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
1.5 tsp clarified butter or ghee
1 tbsp olive oil, for roasting
freshly cracked salt
freshly cracked white pepper
freshly cracked black pepper
1 tsp red pepper flakes
Preheat the oven to 375*F.
Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and white pepper. Remove the stem of the squash and cut in half lengthwise, remove and discard seeds. Drizzle some more olive oil on the cut side of the squash and place face down on the baking sheet (the inside of the squash should be directly on the coated sheet). Roast for about 45 minutes to one hour, the squash should be very soft – 45 minutes was not enough for my oven.
Remove squash from the oven, turn the halves over, and let cool until you can actually pick them up – this is really important. I burned my fingers more than a few times in my excitement for this soup! While the squash is cooling, heat up the pot or sauce pan that you will be using for your soup on medium-high heat. To the pot, add the clarified butter and leeks. Sautee until leeks soften and begin to caramelize (about 3-4 minutes). Change temperature setting to low and allow the leeks to keep cooking while you clean out the squash.
Once the squash has cooled, scoop out the “meat” using a large spoon and immediately add to the pot. Make sure not to get any of the skin into the pot, I promise it won’t taste good. Raise temperature back to medium-high and add one quart of chicken stock (32 ounces). Add seasoning (salt, pepper, red pepper flakes), mix well, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer (medium-low) and continue cooking until squash begins to break down – about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let soup cool for about five minutes.
Working in batches, purée the soup in a blender until smooth, moving soup to another clean pot or saucepan. An immersion blender would probably work great for this as well, but I don’t have one (yet). Once all the soup is pureed and back in the pot, adjust your seasonings to taste (if needed), and simmer again for about 5 minutes to combine all the tasty flavors.