This is the first recipe I ever came up with all by myself. I was in high school, slowly teaching myself to cook, and I figured soup couldn't be that hard to mess up. I tried it, loved it, and have made it the exact same way ever since. This is an old-fashioned, no-frills butternut squash soup, and it is extraordinarily comforting. I add a slug of brandy or bourbon at the end, which is delicious but totally optional. —ieatthepeach
large leek, thickly sliced
medium carrot, chopped
medium white sweet potato (about 1/2 lb), peeled and chopped
tart apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
sprigs fresh thyme
ground cinnamon OR 1 3-inch cinnamon stick
1 1/2 pounds
butternut squash (about 1 medium squash), peeled, seeded, and cubed
vegetable broth or water
1 1/2 ounces
(1 shot) brandy or bourbon (optional)
In a large stockpot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add leeks and a pinch of salt and sweat for 6-8 minutes, or until translucent. Add carrot or parsnip, sweet potato, and apple, and cook, stirring frequently for another 8-10 minutes, or until the apple has softened and the vegetables are starting to brown. Add thyme sprigs, ground ginger, and ground cinnamon (if using). Cook, stirring frequently, for another minute or so, or until fragrant.
Add squash, cinnamon stick (if using), bay leaf, and broth or water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30-35 minutes, or until the squash and sweet potato are completely tender.
Remove the thyme stems, bay leaf, and cinnamon stick (if using). Puree the soup using an immersion blender, or transfer to a bar blender and puree in batches. Stir in brandy or bourbon (if using).
Season with salt and pepper to taste, then ladle into bowls and serve immediately. Leftovers will keep in the fridge, tightly covered, for up to a week, and in the freezer for 3-4 months.