Home - is where I want to be / But I guess I'm already there /I come home -
she lifted up her wings /
Guess that this must be the place...
- Talking Heads, "Naive Melody"

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Spiced Squash, Fennel, and Pear Soup

All this babbling about writing lately, I never got around to posting last Sunday's soup recipe. This is definitely one that I want to keep. You can make a perfectly acceptable squash soup with many fewer ingredients, but this one is really good. The hint of ginger does wonders.

A note about garlic. Dorie subscribes to the French theory that you must split the clove and remove the green germ, because it's bitter. I tasted the green part when I made this, out of curiosity, and found it didn't register as bitter at all, so from now on I'm not going to bother. You may now cast stones.

Yet again, I failed to take a picture. It's squash soup, you can probably guess what it looks like.

Spiced Squash, Fennel, and Pear Soup
Dorie Greenspan, Around My French Table

3 lb whole squash (Long Island Cheese Pumpkin, acorn or butternut) or 1 1/2 lb peeled and cut
about 3 Tbsp olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, coarsely chopped
1 spring onion or 1 shallot, coarsely chopped
1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed, cored, and sliced
2 celery stalks, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 large garlic clove, sliced
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
fresh ground pepper
5-6 c chicken or vegetable broth
2 ripe pears, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped
2 strips orange or tangerine peel, pith removed
1-2 lemons
creme fraiche or heavy cream for serving (optional)
toasted salted pumpkin seeds for serving (optional)

Preheat the oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with foil. If using a whole squash, cut it half, scoop out the seeds, and rub with olive oil. If used peeled and cut squash, toss with a little oil. Sprinkle squash with a pinch of salt and roast until tender (45 minutes for cut, longer for whole). Cool, peel, and cut into chunks.

Warm 2 Tbsp olive oil in a Dutch oven or soup pot over low heat, then stir in the onion and spring onion or shallot. Season lightly with salt and cook 5 minutes until starting to soften but not color. Add fennel, celery, garlic, and a pinch more salt, and cook, stirring often, 5-10 minutes or until soft but still pale. Add spices and roasted squash. Pour in 5 c broth, increase the heat, and bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Add pears and orange peel. Partially cover the pot and simmer about 20 minutes or until soft enough to mash with a spoon.

Puree (blender, food processor, or immersion blender). Adjust salt and pepper. Add more broth to thin if necessary. Reheat until hot.

Ladle into bowls and finish with lemon juice, garnish with creme and pumpkin seeds.

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