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Butternut Squash Soup With Horseradish And Maple Syrup

Butternut Squash Soup With Horseradish And Maple Syrup
Kevin D. Weeks for NPR /

A couple of years ago, I sat in on a class on preparing Thanksgiving dinner. The first course was a winter squash soup that, like most such soups I've had, was notable primarily for its insipid flavor and watery texture. So I developed my own recipe. Roasting the squash instead of boiling it intensifies its flavors, while the maple syrup enhances the sweetness of the squash and the horseradish adds a savory note without contributing noticeable heat. The soup is even better if it melds overnight in the refrigerator.

Makes 4 servings

1 (2 1/2- to 3-pound) butternut squash

1 large leek, cleaned and cut into rounds

2 tablespoons butter

3/4 cup buttermilk

3/4 cup chicken stock

2 tablespoons maple syrup

4 teaspoons prepared horseradish

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1 pinch ground nutmeg

Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut squash in half across equator, clean out seeds and place cut side down in a baking dish. Add about 1/2 inch of water to baking dish and cook until tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Scrape flesh out of squash into a 2-quart bowl. Melt butter in a 2-quart saucepan over medium-low heat and sweat leeks until translucent. Add 1/2 cup buttermilk, 1/2 cup chicken stock and all remaining ingredients. Bring to a simmer and heat thoroughly.

Puree squash mixture and return to saucepan. Soup should be thick, but still thin enough to require a bowl and spoon to eat. Add additional buttermilk and chicken stock to achieve desired consistency. Taste and adjust seasonings — in particular, you may need a bit more maple syrup depending on how sweet the squash was.

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