Butternut squash soup, a Ruhlman holiday classic. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman.

I’m reposting this soup because it’s such a fabulous fall soup, and the weather in the northeast has finally turned into appropriate soup weather. There’s no better fall vegetable soup than this one (ok, well, maybe French Onion). But certainly no easier soup. Even working slowly and distractedly, this soup can be on the table in twenty or thirty minutes. Which can’t be said for onion soup. It would work equally well with pumpkin if that’s your preference.

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.

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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© 2015 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2015 Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.