I just fell in love with leeks.
I hesitate to say this, but I am afraid this particular vegetable might have remained foreign to me if it weren't for the CSA box. Before that, I'm not even sure I could have correctly identified a leek. And even with their semi-regular appearance in the weekly box, I feel like I haven't done much inspiring with them. Mashed potatoes with leeks were good, but I just don't make mashed potatoes that often. Typically, the leeks that have found their way into my kitchen have been glorified onion replacements. Until now.
I had no idea how delicious leeks would become with one simple (albeit slightly messy) preparation. Fried leeks just became my new favorite garnish. Here, they make their cameo in cole's kitch atop a simple butternut squash soup. They would also be fantastic over salad. Or potatoes. Or [fill in the blank]. They are simply delicious. I think you could put them on top of just about anything.
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Fried Leeks
1 medium butternut squash
1 leek, cleaned and sliced into 1/4" rounds (white and light green parts only)
2 c. vegetable broth
1/4-1/2 c. cream or milk
pinch of nutmeg
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1 Tbs. arrowroot powder
Carefully cut butternut squash in half length-wise. Scoop out seeds. Brush with olive oil and place, cut side down, in a glass baking dish. Roast in 400 degree oven 60-75 minutes, until soft. Allow to cool. Scoop flesh out of skin and set aside.
Separate the layers of the leek from the cut rounds. Set a handful or two aside in a small bowl (these will be fried into the garnish). Chop remaining leek.
Heat olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add chopped leeks. Cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks begin to brown (about 5 minutes). Add vegetable broth to pot, scraping any brown bits from the bottom. Reduce heat to low. Add squash. Puree with an immersion blender, or in batches in a stand blender.
Add cream, nutmeg, and white pepper to soup, stirring until well mixed. Add water or additional vegetable broth to thin soup to desired consistency. Increase heat slightly and stir and cook until heated through.
Dust leek rounds with arrowroot powder, stirring to distribute. Heat vegetable oil in a small pot over medium heat until hot. Add leeks (carefully - hot oil burns!). Fry leeks until browned, 2-3 minutes. Remove with fork or slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
Ladle soup into individual bowls; top with fried leeks. Sprinkle with additional nutmeg and white pepper if desired.