Monday, September 20, 2010

Roasted Butternut Squash Chowder

This is a pretty darn good soup. It is not, however, the rich butternut squash chowder I was expecting. I was hoping for am almost creamy soup where butternut squash was the dominant flavor, but instead ended up with more light and nuanced soup filled with the flavors of myriad vegetables, particularly leeks. I absolutely adore Potage Parmentier, so the leek flavor was more than welcome and I really enjoyed the varied bounty of the farmer's market in my bowl (all of the vegetables in this soup were still available this past Saturday at the Dane County Farmers' Market). This soup requires a lot of prep work and is perhaps better suited to a weekend meal than the busy Monday night I chose to make it, but was a satisfying and healthy meal, a perfect start to the week. I served my soup with a crisp side salad and a hearty slice of Jim's Irish Brown Bread with butter, although I have included the link to Food and Wine's suggested accompaniment, Parmesan Croutons.

Cook's Note: I used aluminum foil instead of parchment paper to cover the butternut squash while roasted because my parchment paper (Reynold's brand) was only oven-safe to 420 degrees F.

Roasted Butternut Squash Chowder
from Food and Wine
serves 8

One 1 1/2-pound butternut squash
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 leeks, white parts only, coarsely diced (1 1/2 cups)
1 Spanish onion, diced
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
4 celery ribs
2 carrots, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise 1/2 inch thick
1 parsnip, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise 1/2 inch thick
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
Parmesan Croutons, for serving

1. Preheat the oven to 425°. Cut the stem off the squash and carefully cut the squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds. Rub the cut sides of the squash with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Set the squash on a baking sheet, cut sides up, season generously with salt and pepper and cover with a sheet of parchment paper. Roast the squash for about 40 minutes, or until tender. Let the squash cool to room temperature. Scoop out the flesh and coarsely chop it.

2. Meanwhile, in a large, heavy casserole, melt the butter in the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over moderate heat. When the butter begins to brown, add the leeks and onion and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the potatoes, celery, carrots, parsnips, chicken stock, wine and thyme and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover partially and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Add the chopped roasted squash to the chowder; cover and simmer for 10 minutes longer.

3. Transfer one third of the soup to a blender and puree until smooth. Stir the puree into the soup and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the parsley and serve with the Parmesan Croutons.

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