Serves 8 to 10
* 1/4 cup olive oil
* 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
* 1 large leek, white part only, finely chopped
* 8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
* about 2.3kgs butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
* 5 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch chunks
* 5 celery ribs, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
* 1/4 cup sugar
* 1 tablespoon salt
* 2 teaspoons freshly ground white pepper
* 10 cups water
* 3 fresh thyme sprigs
* 1 fresh rosemary sprig
* pinch of saffron threads
* Greek yogurt
* Za’atar seasoning
1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until golden brown, about seven minutes. Don’t be afraid to let the edges turn a deep brown color, because this will give the soup an even better flavour.
Add the leek and garlic and sauté for another five minutes. Add the butternut squash, carrots, and celery. Place a lid on the pot and allow the vegetables to cook for 20 minutes.
2. Add the sugar, salt, pepper, water, thyme, rosemary, and saffron. Stir to combine all the seasonings and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until the vegetables are so soft you can press down on them with a spoon, about 30 minutes.
3. Remove the pot from the heat and allow the soup to cool for 10 minutes. Puree the soup directly in the pot using an immersion blender. If you don’t have one of these, allow your soup to cool completely, then puree in small batches in a blender.
4. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then transfer the soup to another pot and reheat slowly before serving. Ladle the soup into individual serving bowls and add a dollop of Greek yogurt on top and a generous sprinkling of za’atar.
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Extracted from Balaboosta: bold Mediterranean recipes to feed the people you love by Einat Admony, published by Artisan, £20.99. Copyright 2013. Photographs by Quentin Bacon.