I love the cool, crisp days in New York City this time of year. While I miss berries, zucchini and sun-ripened tomatoes, it’s nice to say hello again to fall’s hearty bounty. Pumpkins, acorn squash, butternut squash—they’re all overflowing at the farmer’s market right now.
Butternut squash, one of my favorites, is sure to grace many Thanksgiving tables next week. With the right preparation, it can go from the littlest one’s first Thanksgiving plate to the appetizer course, and even a side dish. The trick is roasting it first. Roasting intensifies the flavor in a way that boiling it in water can’t—from there you’ve got a blank canvas, perfect as homemade baby food, or to create a simple side dish—just mash it and season with butter, salt and pepper. My favorite way to enjoy it is in this easy-to-make soup, a perfect prelude to the main course.
Velvety Butternut Squash Soup
This soup is so remarkably smooth, you’ll be tempted to call it creamy butternut squash soup—except there’s not a spot of cream. Start by roasting the squash in a 400ºF oven, until it’s nice and tender, about 30 minutes (split lengthwise and scoop out the seeds first).
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 leeks, white parts only, thinly sliced
1 small butternut squash, roasted, flesh scooped out
2 cups vegetable stock
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Fresh chopped herbs, like sage or cilantro
Heat butter and oil in a 2-quart pot over medium heat. Add leeks and saute until softened and fragrant. Add roasted butternut squash and stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Pour contents of pot into the glass bowl of your Cuisinart blender and puree until smooth, about 2 minutes, then season with salt and pepper. Divide among four bowl and garnish with suggested toppings, if desired.