Buttercup Squash and Leek Soup

I've been a member of the Porter Farms CSA for a few years now, splitting the membership with my friend, Jackie. I have to say that this is my least favorite time of year to be a CSA member. Our bags are full of cabbages and squashes, and neither are my favorite veggies. But the reason I joined the CSA was to stretch my cooking skills and try more veggies, and that definitely applies at this time of year.

Last week's bag included this homely squash, a buttercup squash. I did some Internet searches for buttercup squash recipes, and I found that they can be used interchangeably with butternut squashes. That seems strange to me; the various winter squashes look so different that I'd imagine they'd taste different as well.

I cut open the squash and found a bright orange flesh, similar to that of a butternut squash. But the insides smelled like celery to me.

Even though I have a butternut squash soup recipe I like, I thought this squash called for more of a savory approach, so I messed around with a squash soup with leeks. I served it for lunch with my friend, Marie, who said it was "fabulous." Of course, it was garnished with bacon, which makes everything fabulous!

Buttercup Squash and Leek Soup
A Rah Cha Chow recipe

1 large buttercup squash
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large leeks, white and tender green parts, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
3 cups (or more) chicken stock or unsalted chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 slices bacon, fried crisp and crumbled

Cut stem off squash. Cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds and discard.

Preheat oven to 350. Place the squash, cut side down, on a baking sheet and bake until tender, about 40 minutes. Let cool. Using a spoon, scrape the squash from the skin. Discard the skin.

Meanwhile, in a heavy saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the leeks and thyme, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and browned, about 40 minutes.

Stir in the stock and the squash. Simmer over moderate heat for 20 minutes. In a blender or food processor, puree the soup in batches until smooth. Pour the soup back into the pan and season with the salt and pepper to taste. If the soup is too thick, add some more chicken stock.

To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and garnish each serving with bacon.