Many zillions of years ago, I worked my way through college in restaurants, an incredible education that has probably saved me a hundred thousand dollars in food costs since then. One evening at one such restaurant, the manager found himself with a ridiculous oversupply of butternut squash and challenged the staff to invent some means of getting rid the excess via the customers’ mouths and wallets. One of the Second Cooks improvised something with apples, leeks and few other ingredients that he shared with no one except the manager, a soup that quickly became a semi-permanent fixture on the menu.
I never learned his recipe, so I devised my own. I will try not to brag but honestly, this is a great winter soup (particularly at Thanksgiving), especially for cooks fond of improvisation in the kitchen.
Butternut Squash, Apple & Leek Soup, Vegan & Vegetarian Versions
- One Butternut Squash, halved and seeded
- 3-4 Apples, roughly equal in weight to the squash, cored, peeled and diced
- One or Two Leeks, white part only, finely chopped and thoroughly washed
- 2 Tablespoons Butter or neutral flavored vegetable oil
- 1 Cup to 1 Quart Half & Half, Soy Milk or Almond Milk
- Salt & Pepper to taste (other spices optional)
- Finely chopped toasted walnuts and parsley for garnish (optional)
- Wrap the two squash halves loosely in foil and bake in a preheated over (400 degrees) for 45-60 minutes until a toothpick penetrates the flesh easily.
- Saute the apples and leeks together over medium low heat for ten minutes. Remove from heat when done.
- When the squash are ready, remove from the oven and let cool until you can easily handle them. Peel and chop into one inch cubes.
- Mix the squash together with the apples and leeks. Puree the mixture in your blender or food processor. Add salt and pepper to taste. Feel free to experiment with other herbs and spices, but I recommend only one extra per batch. Cinnamon, coriander, allspice, thyme or finely chopped sage have all worked well for me.
- At this point, you can stop if you wish and serve the puree as an outstanding alternative to mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes or yams.
- But we’re making soup, so add one cup of the half & half or dairy alternative to the blender and puree.
- This is where your own judgment comes in. If you like super-thick soups, you can stop here. If you prefer thinner soups, add another cup at a time until you have the texture you desire.
- Once the soup has reached the desired thickness, pour the contents of the blender into a saucepan and heat gently until hot.
- Pour into bowls. Garnish with a circle of walnuts in the middle and a ring of chopped parsley around that.
If something seems wrong with the recipe, such as a missing step, please don’t hesitate to let me know.
Vonn Scott Bair