We’ve had a lot of butternut squash soups in our lifetime, but as far as home-cooked recipes go, this one tops them all. Cooks Illustrated manages to create the tastiest butternut squash soup we’ve ever had without using even the tiniest bit of cream or milk. We didn’t know low-calorie, low-fat, nutritious and vegetarian- and vegan-friendly could taste this good.
2.5 lbs of butternut squash — peeled, seeded and cut into 2-in. chunks (about 7 cups)
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1 leek, white and green parts only, quartered lengthwise, sliced thin and washed thoroughly (about 1.5 cups)
1 teaspoon of salt
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 cups of vegetable broth
1 to 2 cups of water
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 pinch of cayenne pepper
Sherry and nutmeg upon serving
Peel and seed the butternut squash. Cut it into 2-in. chunks and place into a bowl. Cover the bowl and microwave for about 14 to 18 minutes or until you can easily put a knife through the flesh, stirring halfway through. Drain for about five minutes, and reserve the liquid.
Melt butter in Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add squash, leek and salt. Cook 10 to 13 minutes, stirring occasionally, until squash pieces begin to break down and brown fond forms at the bottom of the pot.
Add 2 cups of broth, and scrape bottom of pot to loosen and dissolve fond. Add remaining 2 cups of broth, reserved squash liquid, 1 cup of water, thyme sprigs, bay leaf and cayenne. Increase heat to high and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 6 to 7 minutes, until leeks are fully tender.
Remove and discard bay leaf and thyme sprigs. Working in batches, process soup in blender for about 1 to 2 minutes, until smooth. Return soup to clean pot and bring to simmer, thinning with up to 1 cup of water to desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with some sherry and nutmeg.