Try this basic, savory soup with pie pumpkin or any other firm-fleshed early winter squash. Adapted from The New York Times.

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 large leeks, white parts only, well-rinsed and chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 3 cups cubed pumpkin or winter squash
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup whole milk or half-and-half
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
  1. Using a heavy-bottomed pot, melt butter, add leeks and sauté over low heat until leeks are tender, but not brown. Stir in garlic.
  2. Add pumpkin and water, cover, and simmer slowly until pumpkin is tender—35–40 minutes. Let mixture cool for at least 15 minutes, then purée using a food processor, blender, or hand blender.
  3. Return purée to pot, add milk or cream and season to taste with salt and pepper. Reheat to serving temperature and sprinkle each portion with chives just before serving.

Variations:  Replace chives with other herbs; good choices include thyme leaves or minced sage. Crisp-fry whole sage leaves in butter and float one or two on each portion. Replace both water and milk with either chicken or vegetable stock.
4 servings.