Though she is a nurse professionally, my Aunt Sharyn is a very talented home cook. Thanksgiving is when she typically breaks out her famous butternut squash soup, though she's whipped it out for many a Rosh Hashanah dinner in the past as well. It's always a crowd favorite! I've adapted it for vegan/vegetarian diet concerns, but listed ingredients needed when serving people who still eat butter and bacon. Happy Autumn! —Rebecca Firkser
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the squash cut-side down on a parchment lined baking sheet. Roast until tender, about 40 minutes. Let cool slightly. Scoop out the flesh from the skin.
In a large, heavy bottomed stockpot, melt the coconut oil (or butter) over over low heat. Add leeks and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are soft and browned, 35-40 minutes. Discard thyme sprigs.
Stir in the stock and squash. Simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes.
Purée the soup with an immersion blender or in a standing blender. Season well with salt and pepper. To serve, garnish with chives, olive oil, and optional sour cream and bacon.
Rebecca Firkser is a freelance food writer and recipe developer. Her work has appeared in a number of publications, among them Food52, TASTE, Edible Manhattan, Extra Crispy, The Strategist, and Bon Appetit's Healthyish and Basically. She contributed recipes and words to the book "Breakfast: The Most Important Book About the Best Meal of the Day." Once upon a time, she studied theatre design and art history at Smith College, so if you need a last-minute avocado costume or want to talk about Wayne Thiebaud's cakes, she's your girl.