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Course Appetizer


  • 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)
  • ½ cup Greek or homemade yogurt, crème fraîche, or mascarpone
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (optional)


  • 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).
  • Sauté the rinsed reserved seeds in the remaining 2 teaspoons butter till golden brown and crisp, about 10 minutes over high, then low heat.
  • 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.
  • Purée the squash in a blender (or in the pot with an immersion blender) till uniformly smooth.
  • Serve garnished as you like with yogurt, toasted seeds, and fresh thyme.