Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman


When I arrived at Cleveland Airport this morning, I found a tweet from @nancypantscan (who has the coolest Twitter icon—I can never stop staring and marveling at it!), who said this soup, previously posted, is always a hit, and even converted her I-don’t-like-squash-soup bro-in-law. As the weather is getting chilly all the way down to my mom’s condo in West Palm, there is no better soup to put on your menu this week.

I will be eating at some sweet spots here in NYC but even hope to have at least one cozy night at home, and this is the perfect dish for a tiny NYC kitchen, along with a good baguette.

When I made the above soup, I took some extra time to clean and sauté the seeds in some butter for a crunchy garnish. Fresh or whole, dried thyme leaves are the key to the flavor of this soup (don’t use the old, powdered thyme sitting in your spice rack). I still have fresh thyme in the garden and that makes a good finishing garnish, and last, some yogurt, which I always have on hand. (High point of last week: My Indian neighbor came over to ask for some starter as hers had gone bad, which happens, and she knows yogurt, so it was a great honor; I’m glad ours didn’t go bad at the same time.)

Soup is a technique in Ruhlman’s Twenty, as is sauce, and this could easily be the sauce for a scallop dish (we’re in prime scallop season—lucky East-coasters are, anyway). I love how soups and sauces are often interchangeable. I’d never serve a bowl of Sauce Robert, or a bowl of Hollandaise, but most thick, puréed soups can be used as sauces. What a killer use of leftover butternut squash soup that would be!

Butternut Squash & Leek Soup

  • 2 large leeks, white and light green parts only, cleaned and julienned (save dark green parts for stock)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, plus 2 teaspoons or so for the seeds (if using)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, cut in large dice, seeds reserved
  • 2 teaspoons whole dried thyme leaves (not powdered thyme; this is critical)
  • 1 quart half-and-half (you won’t use it all; you can get by with 2 cups if you wish)
  • 1/2 cup Greek or homemade yogurt, crème fraîche, or mascarpone
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (optional)
  1. Sauté the leeks in 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat until they’re soft, hitting them with a big four-finger pinch of salt (a teaspoon for the ladies who are measuring).
  2. Sauté the rinsed reserved seeds in the remaining 2 teaspoons butter till golden brown and crisp, about 10 minutes over high, then low heat.
  3. Add the squash and the dried thyme to the leeks and stir to heat through for a few minutes. Add just enough half-and-half to cover the squash. Bring to a simmer and cook on medium-low for 15 minutes or so.
  4. Purée the squash in a blender (or in the pot with an immersion blender) till uniformly smooth.
  5. Serve garnished as you like with yogurt, toasted seeds, and fresh thyme.

Serves 8

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© 2014 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2014 Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.