Butternut Squash Potato Leek Soup

Butternut Squash Potato Leek Soup is a creamy, vegetarian soup packed with butternut squash, leeks, and russet potato.  It’s as hearty as it is comforting, and it’s perfect topped with crispy thyme croutons.

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I first posted this recipe in January 2013, and I decided since it’s one of my favorite soups, that it was in need of an upgrade.  A photo AND recipe upgrade.  I have another Butternut Squash Soup recipe on the blog that’s spiced up with curry powder, cayenne pepper, and fresh ginger, but this one is so different.  This soup is very un-spicy, if you will, and it’s got a mild flavor and velvety smooth texture that’s  so comforting on a chilly day.  If you like potato leek soup, you’ve got to try this.  It’s potato leek soup with a butter-nutty twist!

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This recipe was inspired by Cooking Light magazine’s Golden Winter Soup that I came across many years ago.  It’s so easy to make, and please don’t let pureeing the soup in a blender deter you from trying it.  It comes together in a flash, and it really will appeal to the whole family.  There are no chunks of vegetables in it to scare the kids away, or veggie-challenged adults for that matter. 😉

The leeks are what make this soup special for me.  Leeks have such a nice, mild onion flavor, and I’d never cooked with them before I made this soup.  I have to say, I haven’t looked back, and I use them any time I can.

Leeks are dirty little guys, and need to be cleaned well.  I learned how to clean them by watching an episode of Rachael Ray way back when, by thinly slicing the white and light green parts of the leek only, and discarding the dark green part.  Leeks don’t make your eyes water when you slice them, which is nice.  That means no more running mascara, ladies. 😉

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Fill a large bowl with water, place the leek slices in the water, and separate them with your fingers.

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The leeks will float on top of the water, and the grit will sink to the bottom…..just like magic! Just be sure to do a good job of breaking them up and working the water in with your fingers in order to remove all of the grit.  From there, drain the leeks in a colander.  You can also halve the leeks, leaving the root intact,  spread the layers, and stand them up under running water and the grit will run right out.  See which method works best for you. 🙂

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For extra flavor, I added a bouquet garni, which consists of a sprig of thyme, sprig of Italian flat leaf parsley, 6 peppercorns, and one bay leaf.  I tied them up in the dark green part of the leek that I was going to discard anyway, or you can use cheesecloth.  This is optional, but it really does add a nice flavor without adding herbs and spices.  You can also sub out the veggie stock for chicken if you’d like a meatier flavor.

I added 1/4 cup of heavy cream to my soup after I pureed it, which was plenty for me, or you can also add half and half.  Sometimes I don’t want any richness in my soup, so I leave it out entirely and add a dollop of sour cream, Greek yogurt, or creme fraiche on a bowl by bowl basis.  It’s totally up to you.

I made some crispy, homemade thyme croutons to make this soup even heartier, and did it ever do the trick.  One thing’s for sure — when you eat this soup, you’ll get all warm and fuzzy on the inside.  You just won’t be able to help it. 🙂

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Butternut Squash Potato Leek Soup
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Butternut Squash Potato Leek Soup is a creamy, vegetarian soup packed with butternut squash, leeks, and russet potato. It's as hearty as it is comforting, and it's perfect topped with crispy thyme croutons.
Serves: 8-10 servings
Ingredients
For the soup:
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 cups leeks, white and light green parts thinly sliced, cleaned, halved, and sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 5 cups cubed, peeled and seeded butternut squash, about 1 medium (cut into 1" chunks)
  • 1 large russet potato, peeled, and cubed (about 1½ cups in 1" chunks)
  • bouquet garni (1 sprig thyme, 1 sprig flat leaf parsley, 6 peppercorns, & 1 bay leaf), optional*
  • 6 cups low sodium vegetable stock (I used 4 cups vegetable stock and 2 cups water)*
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • ¼ cup heavy cream, optional*
For the croutons:
  • 1½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons freshly chopped thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 2 cups cubed baguette or French bread, cut into ½" cubes*
  • salt, to taste
Instructions
Prepare the soup:
  1. Heat the butter in a large soup pot over medium low heat. Add the leek and sauté until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cayenne pepper and sauté 30 seconds. Add the squash and potato, and sauté 1 minute more. Add the bouquet garni and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the squash and potato are very tender. Remove from heat and discard the bouquet garni.
  2. Ladle half of the soup into a blender. Remove the center piece of the lid in order for the hot air to escape and cover partially with a dish towel. Puree until smooth and pour into a large bowl. Repeat with the other half of the soup. When finished, add the salt, pepper, and cream, if using. Add more salt and pepper if desired.
Prepare the croutons:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the bread on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with the olive oil, thyme, and salt until well coated. Bake on the middle rack of the oven in a single layer, tossing halfway through, for about 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool slightly. Top the soup with croutons and extra cream for garnish, if desired, and enjoy!
Notes
Cook time above includes baking the croutons while the soup is simmering.

*Bouquet garnis are a nice way to add extra flavor to soup. Wrap the ingredients in cheesecloth or the dark green top of the leek!

*Chicken stock or water may be substituted for the vegetable stock.

*Depending on how rich you like your soup, you can add the cream, half and half, or simply omit it and serve with a dollop of creme fraiche, sour cream, or Greek yogurt on a bowl by bowl basis. Soup should not be frozen once the cream is added.

*I used a 3½ ounce mini baguette for my croutons, which was the perfect size.

Use white pepper if you'd rather not see flecks of black pepper in your beautiful, golden hued soup!

Recipe by Flavor the Moments.