adventures of an american housewife in the south of france

Soup: A Mouthwatering Work of a Culinary Genius

Last night we had our first Paperbacks and Pinots Book Club of 2011.  We all gathered at Taylor's apartment to discuss Dave Eggers, A Heartbreaking Work of a Staggering GeniusI had actually already read this book about two years ago, but I spent the last few days of my commute to Oakland browsing through the novel to refresh my memory.  I love this book mostly for its humor, but I also enjoy the fact that it takes place in the Bay area.  It's always fun to read about places you know and have experienced for yourself.  For me, it creates a stronger connection to the storyline and resonates that much more.

As I've mentioned before, everyone is responsible for bringing a little something to share at Book Club.  It has been absolutely freezing in my office this week and I have had a difficult time reaching a comfortable body temperature despite the fact that it's actually in the 60s outside.  Yesterday I literally sat at my desk with a space heater 4 inches from my face and my fingers still felt like little icicles tap-tap-tapping on the keyboard.  So I decided to make a warm and creamy soup to share with my friends.  I browsed around online and found this recipe for Golden Winter Soup, which turned out to be a great success!

I was really excited about making this soup because it meant that I could try out the Immersion Blender that I received nearly two years ago as a wedding gift and has been sitting in its box in my closet ever since. It is now my new favorite gadget in the kitchen - my soup was pureed in about 20 seconds flat with virtually no mess - amazing!  If you don't have an Immersion Blender, no worries, you can just use a regular blender instead.  But it will take longer.  And be messier.  And create more dishes to wash.  So you should probably just go out and buy an Immersion Blender.

A few notes about this soup:  I've adjusted the recipe slightly based on some additions I made and also some measuerments that I felt were off.  For example, the recipe said I would need 2 leeks to make 2 cups, but it was not nearly enough.  I ended up using some green onions that I had leftover from Fish Taco Night to fill in, and it turned out just fine.  Also, I skipped making the whole Gruyère toast side, but left it in the recipe because it does sound delightful.

You'll Need:

  • 2  tablespoons  butter
  • 5  cups  (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (about 2 pounds) - or you can use the pre-cut squash which I did not do, but I think would be much easier and less time consuming
  • 2  cups  (1/2-inch) cubed peeled russet potato (about 1 large potato)
  • 1  teaspoon  kosher salt
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 2  cups  sliced leek (about 6 medium)
  • 4  cups  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1  cup  half-and-half
  • 12  ounces  baguette, cut into 16 slices
  • 3/4  cup  (3 ounces) shredded Gruyère cheese
  • 3  tablespoons  chopped chives
  • Freshly ground black pepper (optional)


Preheat broiler.

Melt butter in a large Dutch oven or heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add squash, potato, garlic, salt, and pepper to pan; sauté 3 minutes. Add leek; sauté 1 minute. Stir in broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until potato is tender, stirring occasionally. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup in the pot until smooth, OR, place half of potato mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Pour into a large bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining potato mixture. Stir in half-and-half. Cover, keep warm on low for about 5-10 minutes to allow the soup to thicken.

Arrange bread slices in a single layer on a baking sheet; sprinkle evenly with cheese. Broil bread slices 2 minutes or until golden. Ladle 1 cup soup into each of 8 bowls; top each serving with about 1 teaspoon chives. Serve 2 bread slices with each serving. Garnish with freshly ground black pepper, if desired.

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