It is mid March in Chicago and there is still snow on the ground. As a life long Chicagoan I have endured many cold and snowy winters...just not during the same year. While this has been a very trying winter, the one positive, possibly the only positive, is that I have made lots of soups and came up with some new recipes. Here is my roasted butternut squash and leek soup recipe. It is gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, and very flavorful, enjoy!
1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed into 1" pieces
4 cups vegetable broth
4 tbs olive oil, divided
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp kosher or sea salt
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
Dash of cayenne pepper
Fresh parsley for garnish
Preheat oven 425°
Put the cubed butternut squash, salt, cinnamon, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a bowl and toss until squash is evenly coated.
Place squash on a baking sheet but do not overcrowd so that the squash will roast instead of steam. Use two pans if necessary. Cook squash in oven for approximately 40-45 minutes. Turn the squash over halfway through roasting and rotate the pan(s). When done, the pieces should be soft in the middle and lightly browned on the sides.
While the squash is roasting, cut off the dark green tough part of the leek and the root piece on the other end, discard. Cut the leek lengthwise into quarters. Wash leek thoroughly, making sure to remove all the dirt between the layers. Take each quarter and slice into thin pieces. Here is a link, how to chop leeks, explaining the proper way to cut and clean them.
In a 3 quart pot, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the leek, stirring occasionally, and cook until softened, approximately 10 minutes. Add the vegetable broth, thyme, bay leaf, roasted squash, and cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs. Place soup into a blender or use an immersion blender and process until the soup is smooth. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Serve soup in a bowl with a small sprig of parsley on top as a garnish.
You can easily substitute chicken broth for the vegetable broth if you are not a vegetarian; also, if you are not dairy-free, sauté the leeks in butter for a richer flavor.
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