Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup

3 cups peeled, diced butternut squash (about 1 small squash)
2 cups thinly sliced carrot (4 medium)
¾ cup thinly sliced leek or chopped onion
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
2¼ ounce cans reduced-sodium chicken broth
¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ cup half-and-half or light cream
Crème fraiche or dairy sour cream (optional)
Toasted pumpkin seeds (optional)
Fresh tarragon sprigs (optional)

1. In a large covered saucepan cook squash, carrot, and leek in hot butter over medium heat about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add broth. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 25 to 35 minutes or until vegetables are very tender. Cool slightly.

2. Place one-third of the squash mixture in a food processor or blender. Cover and process or blend until almost smooth. Repeat with remaining squash mixture. Return all of mixture to saucepan. Add white pepper and nutmeg; bring just to boiling. Add half-and-half; heat through. If desired, garnish each serving with crème fraiche, pumpkin seeds, and/or fresh tarragon.

3. Makes 6 servings (6 cups)

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