Butternut Squash and Leek Soup
4 1/2 pounds butternut squash, halved lengthwise
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large leeks, white and tender green parts, coarsely chopped
7 fresh thyme sprigs or 1 teaspoon dried
5 cups chicken stock or unsalted canned broth
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup sour cream
About 3 tablespoons chopped chives
8 slices of bacon, fried crisp, crumbled
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the squash, cut side down, on a baking sheet and bake until tender, about 40 minutes. Let cool slightly. Using a spoon, scoop out and discard the seeds. Scrape the squash from the skin.
Meanwhile, in a large heavy saucepan or flameproof casserole, melt the butter over low heat. Add the leeks and thyme and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and browned, about 40 minutes. Discard the thyme sprigs.
Stir in the stock and the squash. Simmer over moderate heat for 20 minutes. In a blender or food processor, puree the soup in batches until smooth. Pour the soup back into the pan and season with the salt and pepper.
The soup can be prepared up to two days ahead. Cover the soup and refrigerate. Reheat the soup before serving.
Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish each serving with 1 tablespoon sour cream, 1 teaspoon chives and a sprinkling of the bacon.