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Butternut Squash Velvet

Serves: Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut squash (about 1½ pounds), peeled, seeded, and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • ¾ cup diced (1-inch) onion
  • 1 cup sliced leek, including some of the lighter green inner leaves
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1½ cups chicken stock, homemade, or low-salt canned chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup heavy cream

  • Garnishes:
  • ¼ cup crushed pistachio nuts
  • A few sprigs fresh chervil, dill, chopped fresh tarragon, or chives


Procedures:

Butternut is one of my favorite squashes. In this recipe, it is made into a velvety concoction that makes an elegant first course for any dinner and is good cold as well as hot. I garnish the dish with herbs and roasted pistachio nuts, although you can substitute slivered almonds. Buy peeled butternut squash if you find it at your market, it is well worth the extra money because it is difficult to peel.

Put the squash, onions, leek, olive oil, salt, pepper, stock, and water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover partially, reduce the heat to low, and boil gently for 20 minutes. Emulsify with an immersion blender until smooth. You can use a regular blender or food processor, but an immersion blender is more convenient. (The soup can be prepared to this point a day ahead, covered, and refrigerated. It also freezes well.)

At serving time, add the cream and bring the soup to a boil. Serve garnished with a sprinkling of crushed pistachios and a sprig of fresh chervil or dill or a sprinkling of tarragon or chives.

by Jacques Pépin, Poulets & Légumes

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