½ leek that’s been slow-roasted in olive oil (see below)
2 cups squash purée
Chicken stock or water, as needed
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Lemon juice or white wine vinegar (optional)
2-4 large leeks, well-washed, roots and dark outer layers removed, and halved lengthwise
2 large swaths lemon zest, removed with a Y-peeler (optional)
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon dried thyme, rosemary, or oregano
Fish out a confited leek, and drain off excess oil. Slice the leek thinly, cross-wise, into half-moons. Reserving half of the chopped leek, crisp the other half in a pan set over high heat, and set aside for garnish.
Combine the squash purée, a splash of stock or water, and chopped leek in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Simmer until warmed through, stirring occasionally, and adding more stock or water if you like a thinner consistency. Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon, if needed. Divide soup between bowls, and garnish the soup with the frizzled leeks and a drizzle of leek oil and toasted spices.
Leeks slow-roasted in olive oil:
Preheat the oven to 300F. Combine the leeks, lemon zest, if using, and spices in an oven-proof skillet just large enough to fit everybody in one snug layer. Season with a generous pinch of salt, then add enough olive oil to cover by an inch. Cover tightly with foil, and roast until all is tender and melty, about an hour. Allow to cool before packing into jars–oil too!– and storing in the fridge. Stir confited leeks into grain salads and pan sauces. Crisp on the stove and top your squash soup. Use the infused oil in vinaigrettes and to roast vegetables. Top mashed potatoes, roasts, burrata, and pizzas with a bit of both.