Butternut Squash Soup with Seasoned Pepitas

17 October

1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup unsalted pumpkin seeds (pepita)
1¼ teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted and ground
Sea salt
2 medium leeks, white and light green parts only, roughly chopped and washed well
2 cloves garlic, smashed
4-6 potatoes, chopped into 1-inch pieces
4 pounds butternut squash, cut into ½-inch pieces
1½ quarts chicken or vegetable stock
1 3-inch rind of Parmesan cheese (optional)
½ cup heavy cream
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the pumpkin seeds and cook, stirring the seeds for even browning, until they start to pop, 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and season while warm with 1¼ teaspoons of the ground cumin and salt to taste. Set aside for garnish.
2. Heat oil in a stockpot over medium heat. Add the leeks and garlic and cook until soft, about 3-5 minutes. Add the potatoes, squash, and cook until softened, but not browned, about 3 minutes. Add 5½ cups of the stock and the Parmesan rind, if using. Simmer until the squash is tender, 12-15 minutes. Remove the Parmesan if used, and discard. Working in batches, transfer the soup to a blender (do not fill more than half the way), and puree until very smooth.
3. Return to the pot over medium-low heat. Add the cream, the remaining cumin, and salt and pepper. Add the remaining stock to thin the soup as needed. Ladle the warm soup into small cups and garnish with the pumpkin seeds.

Makes about 12 cups

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