How was your Thanksgiving? Hope it went well! I hope you are not still munching on the leftover turkey. My dinner was a success. We didn’t make turkey. Since there were only 3 of us, we made cornish hens. The hens came out beautiful and moist. Thanks to the help of my sister. We pull off a great meal and we had a wonderful time!
This week in Los Angeles is a cold week (40˚F – 60˚F). I know, I know…… Cold weather in LA is nothing to many of you (the folks who live in snow area), but it is cold for us the Angelenos. I am not complaining. I am just saying. But no matter what kind of cold weather it is, hot soup will definitely warm you up.
This butternut squash soup was creamy and slightly sweet with a few layers of flavors from the leeks, fennel, thyme and sage. The caramelized leeks and fennel also gave the soup some good bites. And who doesn’t love the fried leek strings? They were crispy which brought some great texture to the soup. This hot soup goes perfect with a savory grilled cheese sandwich. Enjoy and stay warm!
Butternut Squash Soup with Leeks and Fennel (Adapted from Williams-Sonoma.com)
– 1 large butternut squash
– 1½ tablespoon unsalted butter (cut into small dices)
– 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
– 1 leek
– 1 small fennel bulbs
– 1 garlic clove (minced)
– 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, plus more as needed
– 1 fresh thyme sprig
– 1 fresh sage leaf
– 1 tablespoon unsalted butter (for leeks and fennel)
– ground black pepper
– oil for frying
- Preheat the oven to 375˚F (190˚C). Line a parchment paper on a baking sheet.
- For the squash, carefully cut in half lengthwise with a sharp knife. Scoop out the seeds and stringy membrane. Remove the stem with the knife as well. Place the squash halves flesh side up on the prepared baking sheet. Rub a few pieces of diced butter onto the squash flesh with your fingers. Sprinkle the rest of the diced butter and brown sugar on the squash evenly. Season the squash with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for about 1 – 1½ hour or until fork-tender. Remove from oven and cool for at least 30 minutes at room temperature.
- Meanwhile, trim the leek by reserving the white and light green parts. Cut a 2-inch long piece off and set aside to use for later. Cut the remaining leek in half lengthwise. Rinse and clean. Slice the leek into ¼-inch pieces. Set aside.
- For the fennel, rinse and clean. Cut off the stalks and fronds. Save some of the fronds for garnish and discard the stalks. Cut the bulb into quarters through the core. Remove the core from each quarter. Slice each quarter lengthwise into ¼-inch thick pieces.
- Once the squash has been rested for 30 minutes, scoop out the flesh and transfer to a food processor or blender. Puree until smooth. Measure out 1 pound of puree. Set aside. Save the rest for some other uses.
- In a large Dutch oven or pot over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the leeks and fennel. Cook until softened, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Transfer ½ cup to a small bowl. Set aside.
- Back to the Dutch oven, add the garlic to the remaining s and fennel, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the butternut squash puree, chicken broth, thyme and sage. Mix well and bring to a boil. Reduce to medium-low heat, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Remove the thyme sprig and sage leaf and discard. Season with salt and pepper to your own taste. Transfer the soup to a blender and puree until smooth. Return the soup back to the Dutch oven. Cover and cook over low heat.
- Cut the reserved 2-inch leek piece in half lengthwise. With 1 half, rinse, clean and dry with paper towels. Cut into very thin strings (as thin as you can cut them). In a small pan over medium-high heat, pour about ¼-inch depth of oil and heat until hot. Add the leek strings and fry until crispy and golden, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Season the leeks lightly with salt.
- In another small pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the reserved cooked leeks and fennel. Cook until brown and caramelized, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes.
- Place the soup into 2 serving bowls. Garnish with caramelized leeks and fennel, fennel fronds, and fried leek. Serve immediately.
- Roasted butternut squash puree can be made 1 – 2 days ahead. Keep the puree in a Ziploc bag or an airtight container in the fridge.
- If you don’t have much time, skip the fried leek and caramelized leeks and fennel at the end.
- If you can’t find butternut squash, you can substitute it with sugar pumpkin or Kabocha (Japanese pumpkin).