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Bear Mountain Butternut Squash Soup with Cinnamon Croutons

From Miami County Locally Grown

<p>I make this soup every fall when butternut squash is ripe. It is hearty and filling and makes a warm, inviting supper dish on a cool fall evening.</p> <p>This recipe is can be changed up quite a bit. The cinnamon croutons can be replaced with some sour cream and chives, or for a Mexican flair some salsa, sour cream and cheese. I have also added potatoes, parsnips, celery, etc. to the soup mix. You can also substitute the cream with milk or more chicken broth.</p> <p>Before making the soup, I split the squash in half, scoop out the seeds and microwave for 5 &#8211; 8 minutes, then cool. Then it is very easy to peel the skin and cut the squash into chunks.</p>
Source: Good Housekeeping magazine from many years ago (Entered by Becky Parr)
Serves: 12

4 ounces french bread (1/2 loaf), cut into cubes
3 T margarine or butter
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 medium leek
2 medium carrots, coarsely chopped
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 can chicken broth (13 3/4 to 14 1/2 oz)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C half-and-half or light cream
3 T butter or margarine
2 1/4 C water

Step by Step Instructions
  1. Prepare cinnamon croutons: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In bowl, toss 3 T melted margarine or butter, cinnamon and 1/4 tsp. salt with bread cubes. Spread bread cubes on jelly roll pan or cookie sheet; bake 10 to 12 minutes until golden brown.
  2. Soup: Cut off root end from leek. Cut leek lengthwise in half; rinse with cold running water. Coarsely chop white and pale green part of leek; discard tough dark green part. In 5 quart Dutch oven or pot, melt 3 T butter or margarine over medium high heat. Add carrots, onion and leek and cook until browned, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add squash, chicken broth, 1/2 tsp salt and 2 1/4 c. water and heat until boiling. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 15 - 20 minutes until vegetables are very tender. Use an immersion blender, or a regular blender with center part of cover removed, to blend squash mixture until very smooth. In a regular blender use several small batches. Return squash mixture to Dutch oven or pot, stir in cream. Heat soup over medium heat until hot, stirring occasionally. Do not boil.
  3. Serve topped with cinnamon croutons.