Roasted Potimarron (Hokkaido Squash or Butternut) Soup
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes to 1 hour
Great for: an entrée, a meal, or served in verrines as an apéro
Wine suggestion: Alsace
1 medium leek, sliced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, peeled and diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 garlic clove, peeled, de-germed, and finely minced
4 cups chicken broth or vegetable stock
3 healthy pinches herbes de Provence
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 potimarron (Hokkaido squash) or 1 medium-sized butternut squash
1/2 a lemon to 1 lemon, juiced (optional)
¼ cup chopped chives, chopped, for garnish
Crème fraîche, sour cream, or Greek yogurt, for garnish
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
To clean the leek, slice off the dark green end, trimming to the part where the color is pale green or white end. Cut off the roots. Slice the stalk lengthwise. Run leeks under cold water. Set aside until ready to chop and use.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add leeks, onion, celery, carrot, and garlic, cooking until vegetables are soft, about ten minutes. Add the chicken broth or vegetable stock, 2 teaspoons of the cinnamon, cumin, and two pinches herbes de Provence. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to a simmer.
Remove the ends (top and bottom) of the squash using a sharp knife, then cut it in half from the top (the neck) to the bottom (the tail). Remove the seeds with a spoon.
Cut the squash into large chunks and place on a baking tray, skin side down. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, a pinch of herbes de Provence, and the remaining cinnamon. Place on the center rack of the oven and roast for 25 minutes until soft.
Let cool, then peel off the skin (discard the skin) and chop into 1-inch or 2-inch cubes. Add to the pot of vegetables and broth. Simmer for another 15 to 20 minutes. Purée in batches with a food processor, or all at once with an immersion blender, until creamy. Season with salt and pepper. If the soup needs an acidic flavor boost, add fresh lemon juice, to taste.
Serve in bowls, and garnish with chopped chives and a dollop of cream.
Tip: To change this soup up a bit, add 1 cup of coconut milk and three tablespoons of curry powder to broth. Heat. Yum!