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Local News

Tasty squash soup adds variety to holiday table

  Photo by Tom Houlihan/H-F Chronicle

There it sits, in all its glory — an 18 pound turkey. Stuffed to bursting and full of flavors that you think about the rest of the year.

But what if some of your holiday guests will not eat anything that is so unquestionably delicious?
  (about nine servings)

  1 Preheat oven to 400

  Put a halved and seeded
     butternut squash, about
     three pounds, face-down
     on a baking sheet. Cook
     for one hour, let the
     squash cool and then
     scoop out the pulp and
     cut into smaller pieces.

  3 In a frying pan, sautee
     two leeks, cleaned and
     chopped, in three table-
     spoons butter. Use
     mostly the white part
     of the leeks. Add four
     teaspoons minced fresh
     ginger and sautee for
     eight minutes.

  4 In a soup pot, stir in
     the squash and four
     cups of vegetable stock.
     Add the leek and ginger
     mixture. Bring to a
     simmer and cook for
     20 minutes. Add one
     teaspoon of salt. Using
     a blender, puree the
     soup until smooth.

  5 At this point, you can
     add more vegetable
     stock to achieve a
     desired thickness. Then
     the soup will be ready
     for serving.  

With two vegetarian sons, that was a question that needed to be answered. It was time to add another dish to our holiday table that was simple, satisfying and welcomed by all.

I looked around and decided that a squash and leek soup was the way to go. To be honest, we — that means everyone in our immediate family — have all turned toward more of a plant-centered diet. And I am always searching the internet for interesting veggie recipes.
But this recipe comes from an old standby, “The Joy of Cooking,” a culinary classic that I’ve use as a basic reference for nearly 40 years. It’s an easy recipe with a big payoff. There are various subtle tastes in here that combine to please the palate of anyone at your table, regardless of whether or not they they’ll be eating the turkey.
We serve it at the beginning of the meal. Not too much, about three-quarters of a cup per person does the trick. Then you move on to the rest of the feast.
Generally, our squash soup is a little thicker but you can adjust the vegetable and broth ratios to your own taste. Also, we use a stick blender for that portion of the cooking process.

We use vegetable stock but chicken broth is also an option. Vegetable oil can be used instead of butter. We prefer butter. If you like, you can add more butter than what’s listed in the recipe. Believe me, no one will complain.

This story first appeared in the Chronicle’s annual Holiday Guide in the Dec. 1 print edition.

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