Squash, squash, and more squash this week!
I can’t help it – everywhere I turn there are mounds of mounds of squash starring me down. Have you noticed how much prices vary? Since I shop at so many different markets, I compare prices.
Squash prices vary pretty dramatically by store- (over the last two weeks, I’ve seen prices range from less than a dollar a pound to over $2 per pound and even a set per squash price at Trader Joe’s!) As a point of reference, if anyone is interested, I shop mostly at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s with occasional trips to local Farmer’s Markets, Fred Meyer and QFC. Fred Meyer has a decent Organic / Natural Foods section but I mostly buy paper goods (paper towels, toilet paper, ziploc bags) and sometimes organic, local produce if there is a good deal. Same for QFC and especially since they have a great wine department ;).
Enough squash sightings and food shopping talk, let’s talk about soup. This is a simple soup, full of great flavor and pretty easy to make.
Left on its own, it’s only 4 Weight Watchers Points Plus per serving, which for all you non-WW people, is very low (means good)! The real treat here, if you decide to make them, are the Crispy Leeks.
I have talked ad nauseum about how much I love soup, stews and chilis and I am sure I will do it again (and again) so that is no surprise. What you don’t usually see me post are puréed soups, mostly because I am more of a chunky, rustic soup kind of girl. Which leads me to find most puréed soups a bit boring, unless they have a fabulous topping of course. And, that is where the Crispy Leeks come in.
Yes, they are fried in oil. Yes, they have 2 Points Plus for a tiny serving.
And, Yes, they are totally worth it, dress up this soup, add another dimension and in my book, make this real-life food that is sustainable and not “diet food”.
Which is really the point, right?
The way I like to make this soup is to roast the Butternut Squash along with something else I am cooking a day or two ahead of time. That way the oven is already on and it’s just another tray with something on it. Let it cook, cool down just a bit, pull off the skin and toss in a container in the fridge until you are ready to make the soup. Then the whole thing comes together really fast. You could of course, roast the squash and immediately make the soup, I just don’t usually have that much uninterrupted time to be in the kitchen.
- 1 large butternut squash, cubed and roasted
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 leeks, cleaned, trimmed and roughly chopped
- 4 medium carrots, peeled and roughly chopped into 2″ pieces
- 3 medium garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 3 to 4 fresh thyme sprigs
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 whole black peppercorns
- 3 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 2 tablespoons non-dairy creamer (I used Trader Joe’s Soy Creamer)
- 4 cups broth (I used Imagine Organic No-Chicken Broth)
- leek greens
- high heat cooking oil (I used Safflower)
- sea salt
- Slice the stem end of the squash and proceed to halve lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and stringy meat (You can save the seeds, clean them and roast them if you are into roasted seeds!). Place the two halves face down on a baking sheet. Add about ½ cup of water.
- To clean the leeks, begin by trimming the dark green tops. Keep one for the Crispy Leeks and toss the other into a ziploc bag and keep in the fridge or freezer for making vegetable stock.
- Next, slice into the leeks lengthwise (leaving the root on) in half and then quarters.
- Vigorously rinse under cold water and shake out to dry. Slice the leeks into 1″ pieces, discarding of the root piece.
- Clean, peel and roughly chop the carrots into 1″ pieces.
- Toss the garlic into the bowl of the food processor, Process until chopped and add in peeled, quartered onion. Pulse until just chopped.
- Combine the thyme sprigs, bay leaf and peppercorns in a spice bag or cheesecloth bundle (See NOTE).
- Finally, measure out the creamer, broth and salt. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 400F. Bake squash on center rack for 45 to 55 minutes (depending on size) until soft. I like when the squash gets a bit of char but you can always add a bit more water halfway through the cooking process if you don’t want the dark edges.
- Heat a large soup pot over medium high heat. Once hot, add oil then chopped onion and garlic. Cook 3 to 5 minutes until soft, stirring occasionally.
- Add chopped carrots, leeks and thyme bundle along with 2 teaspoons of kosher salt and 2 cups of the broth.
- Bring to a boil, cover, immediately lower to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add cubed squash and remaining 2 cups of broth. Stir to combine, bring back to a boil, cover, lower to a simmer and cook an additional 20 minutes until all the vegetables are fork tender.
- Remove from heat and puree using an immersion blender, blender or food processor (just be careful if you are using a blender or food processor when blending hot soup – do very small batches at a time or let soup cool before pureeing).
- Adjust seasoning if necessary – I added the remaining teaspoon of kosher salt. Finally, stir in the non-dairy creamer and set aside while you prepare the Crispy Leeks.
- Thinly slice the reserved leek greens into rounds. I usually do this while the soup is cooking.
- Heat a skillet with high sides over medium high heat until hot. Add ¼ cup of the Safflower Oil. Allow oil to get very hot, but not smoke. Test by dropping a drizzle of water in the pan – if the water sizzles, the oil is ready. Add small amount of leek rounds.
- Cook in hot oil, stirring occasionally, until brown and crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and paper towels and quickly sprinkle with salt. Repeat using same oil until you have the amount of servings you need. You should be able to get 3 or 4 servings per batch.
- Serve soup hot with one tablespoon of crispy leeks on top and Enjoy!