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Turkey stock simmers squash soup

First came the sandwiches, then the tetrazzini and turkey shepherd’s pie.

In honor of Hanukkah, the last mashed potatoes will become latkes with smoked fish, hard-boiled eggs and sauerkraut for tomorrow’s breakfast. So that must mean the previous holiday’s celebratory centerpiece is almost ready for the stockpot.

While turkey soup of some sort still concludes the week after Thanksgiving for many households, I advocated for Indian- and Thai-inspired curries in my latest podcast. That suggestion came after revisiting years of suggestions for leftovers: from pozole and tamale pie to turkey potstickers and pad Thai.

Turns out my repertoire isn’t as diverse as nearly 15 years of food blogging would imply, and I’d shared almost all my favorites in other podcasts. I remembered today that I made leftover potato latkes last year, and it wasn’t even Hanukkah!

So it’s time to press my turkey stock into service for another seasonal staple: winter squash. Owing to my extended family’s aversion to this nutrient-dense, traditional food for Thanksgiving, I still have plenty of locally grown butternut squash and sugar pumpkin on hand. Either would be a fine substitution for the newer honeynut variety, cited in this recipe from Tribune News Service.

Smoked turkey has been my holiday surplus in previous years when my family prepared the bird on our pellet smoker. This year, I simply roasted it in the oven, which I’d still dice to garnish this soup, particularly if it was crisped first in a hot skillet. Bits with crispy skin would be even better. And extra crispy stuffing could even stand in for the croutons indicated here.

Tribune News Service photo

Honeynut and Leek Soup With Smoked Turkey

1 Honeynut, small butternut squash, kabocha or pumpkin, about 2 pounds total

1 large or 2 small leeks, ends trimmed

1/4 cup olive oil

1 medium (about 7 ounces) sweet onion, peeled and chopped

4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

1/2 small red chile pepper, seeded, finely chopped

1 quart turkey stock, chicken broth or vegetable broth

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream (optional)

1/2 pound smoked turkey, diced, for garnish

3/4 cup shredded sharp cheese, such as Asiago or Romano, for garnish

1 1/2 to 2 cups hearty croutons, for garnish

Chopped fresh cilantro or parsley, for garnish

Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Cut the squash in half through stem end. Scoop out seeds. Cut away all the rind. Cut flesh into 1-inch pieces. You'll have 4 generous cups weighing about 1 pound.

Cut the leek lengthwise in half; rinse well. Cut each half crosswise into thin slices including most of green portion.

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven set over medium heat. Add the onion, squash and leek. Cook, stirring often, to soften vegetables a bit, for about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and chile. Cook for 2 minutes. Add the broth; simmer, partly covered over low heat, stirring often, until squash is tender, about 15 minutes for Honeynut or up to 25 minutes for other squash varieties.

Use an immersion blender to puree soup just until it is creamy but still retains visible pieces of vegetables. (Alternatively, work in small batches to puree half of soup in a blender. Return all soup to pot.) Adjust soup consistency by adding a little water (or more broth) so it has consistency of heavy cream. Season with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Stir in the cream, if using. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Pile a little of the smoked turkey and cheese into each serving bowl. Top with a ladle or two of hot soup. Add a few of the croutons and sprinkling of the cilantro or parsley. Garnish with dots of the olive oil. Serve.

Makes 6 to 7 cups, serving 4 as a main course.