Luxe Leek and Squash Chowder with Bacon and Cheese

Luxe Leek and Squash Chowder with Bacon and Cheese

By Jenny Osburn | The Union Street Cafe Cookbook | www.jennyosburn.com

Jenny Osburn is the author of The Union Street Café Cookbook. Her second collaboration with Laura MacDonald of Deep Hollow Print, The Kitchen Party Cookbook, is now available! Find more recipes at jennyosburn.com and see what she’s up to on instagram at jenny.osburn

Luxe Leek and Squash Chowder with Bacon and Cheese

This luxurious soup is one of the best I’ve ever made, an enticing combination of silky leeks and chunks of lovely sweet squash with sharp, rich cheese and bacon. This recipe is also very flexible. Use whatever cheese you have on hand, swap in sweet potatoes for the squash, make it with stock or just water. Leave out the flour and you’ve made it gluten-free.
It can even be made entirely vegan: just leave out the cream, cheese and bacon and use olive oil in place of the butter. It will still be delicious.
It’s easy to find the ingredients for this healthy indulgence too! Taproot has some beautiful leeks for sale at Noggin’s Corner and squash is everywhere right now- the one I used came from Elmridge Farms in our Nourish Your Roots school fundraiser box.

1 bunch leeks
1/3 C butter
1 Tbsp salt
2 cloves garlic
1/4 C flour
6 C chicken stock, vegetable stock, or water
1 lb. potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1/4″ cubes
2-3 lb. butternut or buttercup squash, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 C whipping cream or milk
1-2 C grated cheese: cheddar, blue cheese, parmesan, swiss, gouda or any combination
1/2 C cooked, crumbled bacon (optional)
freshly ground black pepper

Leeks take a little careful washing but are worth the effort! Trim the roots and any wilted tops from the leeks and cut them in half lengthwise. Finely slice the leeks and place them in a large bowl. Add water to cover, let them sit for a moment, then swish them around to dislodge any dirt. Lift them out of the water to drain in a colander or on a towel, wash out the bowl and repeat the washing and draining.

In a pot large enough to hold all the ingredients, melt the butter over high heat and add the leeks. Stir and cook for about ten minutes. The leeks will release a lot of moisture at first, but as they cook it will begin to evaporate and you will hear the leeks begin to sizzle. At that point, reduce the heat to medium and stir in the salt and garlic. Cook for a minute, then stir in the flour and cook the mixture for another minute.

Slowly add the chicken stock to the leek mixture, whisking all the while, until any lumps of flour disappear (don’t panic if this doesn’t go perfectly, it’ll all work out in the end). Add the potatoes, squash, and thyme and cover. Bring the mixture to a boil, lifting the cover from time to time and stirring to make sure it’s not sticking. Reduce the heat and simmer for about ten minutes, stirring every few minutes, until the potatoes and squash are tender.

Turn off the heat and add the cream or milk, stirring to incorporate. Stir in the cheese a handful at a time. Add the optional bacon and lots of freshly ground pepper. Taste to make sure you’ve got enough salt and pepper in there, then serve.