One of my favorite things to do as a chef is to take a classic, tried-and-true recipe and put my own twist on it. It's my way of paying homage to tradition while at the same time creating something new. Enter the following, which I adapted from a Cook's Illustrated recipe I've loved for years. It capitalizes on the infallible technique developed by the Cook's Illustrated test kitchen team but puts an herby twist on it with my Herbes de Provence blend, which contains a whopping ten different herbs.
Herbed Butternut Squash Soup
Makes about 2 quarts
2 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 2-inch chunks (about 7 cups)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
2 large carrots, diced
3 garlic cloves, smashed
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon Herbes de Provence
4 cups vegetable broth
Greek yogurt or sour cream, for serving
Place squash in a large bowl, cover, and microwave until paring knife glides easily through flesh, 14 to 18 minutes, stirring halfway through. Carefully transfer squash to colander set in bowl (squash will be very hot) and drain for 5 minutes; reserve liquid.
Melt butter in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add squash, onion, celery, carrot, garlic, and 1 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until squash pieces begin to break down and brown fond forms in bottom of pot, 10 to 13 minutes.
Add Herbes de Provence and 2 cups broth and scrape bottom of pot to loosen and dissolve fond. Add remaining 2 cups broth, reserved squash liquid and 1 cup water. Increase heat to high and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until vegetables are fully tender, 6 to 7 minutes.
Using an immersion blender, blend soup until smooth. (If you don't have an immersion blender, process soup in batches in a blender.) Thin the soup with water to reach desired consistency (I like mine quite thick). Season with salt and pepper to taste; serve with dollop of yogurt or sour cream.