Friday, November 03, 2006


Good old Cooking Light delivers another successful meal. I already have a serviceable squash soup recipe, but what attracted me to this new one was the whole head of roasted garlic. Also, I enjoy leeks…but garlic was the main appeal.

Having to spend an hour roasting the garlic before beginning to make the soup means this probably won’t become one of my old reliable weeknight recipes—instead, it goes in my
“Sunday recipe” category, like roast chicken or meatloaf. The hour did give me precisely the amount of time I needed to make focaccia to accompany the soup. And once the garlic was roasted, the soup came together really easily. Result? It didn’t pack quite the garlicky punch I was looking for, but it tasted good and I’d make it again. It was pretty, comforting, healthy, and fallish.

Only issue with the recipe: As instructed, I bought 4 leeks at the farmers’ market. Granted, they weren’t gigantic, but they were what I’d call medium-large. After trimming them, washing them, and slicing the white and light-green parts as recipes traditionally have you do, I was left with not the 6 cups called for, but instead a measly 2 cups of leeks. 6 cups is a lot of leeks—more than my potato-leek soup recipe calls for, and that recipe serves 12! So I’m left wondering: (a) How freakin’ huge were the four leeks used by the Cooking Light test kitchen? (b) Was I supposed to use the entire leek, even though I’ve never seen a recipe that calls for the dark green part? (c) Did my substantial shortage of leeks drastically affect the end product? It tasted fine to me—but would it have been dramatically different with more leeks? Well, yes, it would be leekier, obviously. To find out, I guess I’ll have to try again soon. But I’m here to tell you, if you don’t end up with 6 cups of leeks, don’t sweat it. You’ll still have good soup.

1 whole garlic head
4 teaspoons olive oil
6 cups thinly sliced leek (about 4 large)
4 cups (3/4-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (about 1 medium)
2 cups water
2 cups less-sodium chicken broth
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Remove white papery outer skin from garlic head (but do not peel or separate the cloves). Wrap head in foil and bake for 1 hour. Cook 10 minutes, then separate cloves, squeezing to extract garlic pulp. Discard skins.

3. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add leek; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in garlic, squash, 2 cups water, broth, salt, and black pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until squash is tender.

4. Place half of squash mixture in a blender and puree until smooth. Pour pureed soup into a bowl and repeat procedure with remaining squash mixture. Return pureed soup to the saucepan, stir, and heat briefly.

Serves: 5-6
Time: 1½ hours (mostly garlic-roasting time)

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