100% Local: Leek, Potato & Delicata Squash Soup

I’ve never met a winter squash I didn’t like: pumpkin, butternut, Hubbard, Long Island cheese, even the fabulous fairy-tale pumpkins are tasty as well as gorgeous to look at. Strangely enough, I hated squash when I was young: my only experience with it was the stringy, watered-down, boiled-and-mashed variety that graced our Thanksgiving table each year. Blech. Then at some point, I’m not sure how, I discovered roasted squash; and squash soup; squash bread and muffins, stew and gnocchi and granola, oh my! And of course now there is jam, and ale, and jam with ale: all sorts of winter-squashy goodness.

I wish I had a picture to show you of the delicata squash in all its stripey glory (here: Pim took a nice one for you). But I used it for the soup, you see: so goes the life of the itinerant food blogger. If you haven’t had delicata squash, you’re in for a treat if you run across them at your local market. They are not always easy to find, although I hear they are gaining in popularity; luckily for me, my farmer loves them and they are a staple of our CSA each Fall. The flesh is a delicate, buttery yellow – more butter-yellow than a butternut squash, actually – and the flavor is similarly, well, delicate: lighter and somewhat more floral than a typical winter squash, with a grassy note that almost makes it taste like Spring. I like delicata roasted or in soups & stews, but I have to say that this particular recipe let the delicata shine: the flavors of leek, potato, butter & squash blended perfectly, and the squash lightened up the texture of the soup making it just the ticket for the crisp days of early Fall.

As fresh herbs seemed de trop alongside the gently floral flavor of delicata, I opted to dress up the soup with some roasted squash seeds (You know that you can roast the seeds of any winter squash, right? Just keep an eye on the smaller seed varieties, as they toast quickly and will burn if left in too long.). And what better opportunity to use a drizzle or two of my local delicata squash seed oil from Stony Brook in upstate New York? None, I say: none.

You can use other winter squashes in this recipe of course: any of them will do just fine. But if you happen to spy some delicata squash at your farmer’s market this weekend, I encourage you to check it out: it’s worth a try. You may just discover a new favorite!

Adapted from Potato Leek Soup, originally from Elise at Simply Recipes

Leek, Potato & Delicata Squash Soup

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 large leeks, cleaned & chopped*
  • 3 tbsp  butter
  • 2 cups chicken (or vegetable) stock
  • 1 lb potatoes, scrubbed, peeled, and diced to 1/2-inch
  • 1 lb delicata squash, peeled, seeds & pulp removed (reserve seeds) and diced to 1/2-inch
  • salt & pepper
  • Delicata squash seed oil & toasted squash seeds, for garnish

*Trim off root ends and tough, dark green tops. Most recipes say to use only the white & pale green parts of leeks; I like to include some of the darker green, about an inch. Leeks are a dirty crop, so clean thoroughly to avoid sandy soil in your soup: cut leeks lengthwise into quarters, wash thoroughly, separating leaves, and chop into 1/4 inch slices.

METHODS

  1. In a medium stockpot, melt butter over medium-low heat. Sauté leeks over low heat, stirring frequently to ensure that leeks do not brown, until vegetables are soft and translucent, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add stock, squash and potatoes. Bring to a simmer over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer covered until potatoes are tender, about 20 – 30 minutes. Purée with an immersion blender, or transfer to a blender, purée, and return to pot. Add salt and pepper to taste, remove cover, and continue to simmer over low heat, using a splatter shield if necessary, until soup is somewhat reduced and thickened to your liking, about 20 – 40 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Rinse squash seeds, removing stringy pulp, and dry with a clean kitchen towel. Spread on a baking sheet, toss with about 1 teaspoon of delicata squash oil (or olive oil), sprinkle with salt, and roast until light brown and crispy, about 15 minutes.
  4. Serve soup hot, drizzled with squash seed oil and garnished with a sprinkling of toasted squash seeds.

Serves 4 – 6 (this soup freezes well, so you can easily double the recipe and save some for a rainy day).

OPTIONS

  1. Other fine garnish ideas: fruity olive oil or a spicy chile oil; a handful of fresh herbs; a dollop of goat cheese; coarsely chopped pecans and a dash of chipotle or smoked paprika.
  2. For a vegan version, eliminate the butter and replace with olive oil, or for a deep, nutty flavor, delicata squash seed oil.

STORE

Refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 6 months.

SEASON

Fall.

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25 comments

  1. Yes, this! I love love love Delicatas! I can’t wait to harvest them (they’re getting close!) and start cooking them up! This looks like a great recipe I will have to try this Autumn!

  2. Delicatas are one of my favorite winter squash. This soup looks perfect for fall. I love those Stony Brook squash seed oils from the Finger Lakes area. I’ve only tried the pumpkin so far, but need to pick up some others.

    • The Stony Brook oils really are delicious and they are uniquely different. The delicata is a deep mahogany red; gorgeous and a bit sweeter and smokier than the pumpkin. And a little goes a long way, so the bottles last a long time!

  3. Gen

    Awesome! I’ve got all three ingredients here: leeks from our CSA farm and potatoes and delicata from the garden. It’s dinner! Thanks :)

  4. eastofedencook

    I am waiting patiently for the local winter squash harvest. We are currently knee deep in ripe tomatoes. And with the autumn harvest comes cooler weather, perfect for your scrumptious soup recipe! Adore the toasted seeds as a garnish!

    • There is a wide variety of taste & quality in pumpkin beers (and yes, home-brewed are often my favorites!). I first fell in love with the pumpkin ale at Cambridge Brewing Company in Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA; the Boston Beer Works Pumpkinhead was another favorite. Commercially, my favorite is Punkin Ale by Dogfish Head, but I also enjoy Shipyard (their smashed pumpkin is particularly good) and Post Road. But you are right: many of the commercial varieties these days are just mild, not-very-good beers with a whiff of pumpkin pie spice. It can take some tasting to find one that you love.

  5. Pingback: Links for your Weekend 9/28/12 | Slow Food Saratoga Region | Supporting Ethical Food in Albany, Saratoga, Glens Falls, the Capital Region and more | Slow Food Saratoga Events

  6. celvet0

    Love the idea of this soup, but may have to root through my compost heap for the potatoes (they volunteered there).

    Why are we only supposed to eat the white and light green portion of the leek? I guess I don’t read enough because I have been using the entire leek and enjoying it just fine. During the summer I thinned out my leek and put them in everything (mac and cheese, sandwiches, salads). So I have been eating the greens all last spring (when I was getting big ones) and all summer (when I decided to grow my own. They taste just fine.

    • Celvet0,

      For baby leeks, I often use the whole thing; as the leeks get bigger, however, the dark green parts have a tendency to get a bit fibrous, woody & tough. It may be that harvesting them straight from the garden, they are so fresh that the darker green is still tasty on your plants… At any rate, there is no reason not to eat them if they taste good!

      • celvet0

        Nope, when I started, I was buying supermarket leeks (last spring), but putting them in soup. They were crunchy, but definitely not woody. Hmm. . . Maybe it’s magic?

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  8. EL

    I don’t know why my EL name isn’t being used all of a sudden.
    With that said, I finally made this soup. It sure tasted great with just the leeks potatoes and delicata. And now your probably don’t want to read further with your distaste of seafood, but for all your readers who do eat seafood: I had some frozen bay scallops that I needed to eat up and they went perfectly with this soup. But since I don’t have any more, that probably won’t happen again and I will still like it just fine.

    Being lazy and having the baby leeks, I garnished mine with very finely chopped leek greens. It tasted very leeky, but the delicata came through just fine.

    EL

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