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Butternut Squash Soup with Caramelized Fennel and Leeks

Our butternut squash puree streamlines preparation of the autumnal soup, which gets a touch of sweetness from caramelized fennel and leeks.

Ingredients:

  • 3 leeks
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 fennel bulbs, quartered, cored and sliced 3/16 inch thick, fronds reserved for garnish
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jar (2 lb.) butternut squash puree
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken stock, plus more as needed
  • 1 fresh thyme sprig
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Canola oil for frying
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter

Directions:

Trim the leeks, reserving the white and light green portions. Cut a piece 2 inches long off the end of 1 leek. Set aside to use for the garnish. Cut the remaining leeks in half lengthwise and then into 1/4-inch half-moons.

In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the leek and fennel slices and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer 1 1/2 cups of the leeks and fennel to a small bowl; set aside.

Add the garlic to the pot and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the butternut squash puree, the 3 1/2 cups stock and the thyme sprig and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Remove the thyme sprig and discard. Season the soup with salt and pepper. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth. Add more stock if needed to reach the desired consistency. Keep the soup warm.

Cut the reserved 2-inch piece of leek in half lengthwise and then into very thin julienne. In a small fry pan over medium-high heat, pour in canola oil to a depth of 1/4 inch and heat until hot. Add the julienned leek and fry until crispy and just golden, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and season lightly with salt.

In a medium fry pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the reserved cooked leeks and fennel and cook, stirring occasionally, until well browned and caramelized, 10 to 12 minutes.

Ladle the soup into warmed bowls. Garnish with the caramelized leeks and fennel, the fried leek and fennel fronds. Serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8.

Williams-Sonoma Kitchen.