Carnival Squash Soup, with Fried Sage and Shaved Parmesan
- 8 carnival squashes, about 4 to 6 inches across
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 cup onion, thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 6 cups chicken stock or more, for desired consistency
- 1 cup fresh sage leaves
- Vegetable oil, for deep frying
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano, for garnish
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
Cut the top 1/4 off 8 squashes, reserving the lids. Scrape the seeds out, clean, rinse, and pat dry. Toss the seeds with 3 tablespoons oil and salt, and arrange in one layer on a baking sheet. Bake in the middle of the oven, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour to 1 1/4 hours, or until they are golden and crisp.
Increase the oven heat to 350 degrees F.
Bake the squashes and the lids, cut side down on lightly oiled baking sheets for 40 minutes or until they are tender (the lids will probably be ready at 30 minutes). When cool enough to handle, scrape most of the pulp out of the squashes leaving just enough in each squash so that it retains its shape. Reserve all the pulp.
Heat 2 inches vegetable oil to 350 degrees F. in a deep saucepan. Add the sage in small batches (it will bubble up) and fry for 20 seconds or until translucent. Transfer to paper towels to drain and sprinkle with salt.
Warm the squash shells and lids in a 350 degree F. oven for 15 minutes. Heat soup until hot, adding water if necessary to thin it slightly. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Put each of the shells into shallow soup bowls and ladle some of the soup into the shell. Top with a few fried sage leaves and some Parmigiano-Reggiano shavings and place the lid, slightly askew, on top.