Savory Squash Soup
- 3 3/4 pounds pumpkin or butternut squash
- 1 acorn squash (about 1 3/4 pounds)
- 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 white onion (about 4 ounces), peeled, trimmed, and finely diced
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 4 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 1 recipe cranberry relish, recipe follows
- 1 recipe cardamom cream, recipe follows
- 1/2 recipe spiced caramelized pecans, recipe follows
- 4 tablespoons pumpkin seed oil
- Cranberry Relish:
- 2 cups fresh cranberries
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup verjus or 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- Spiced Caramelized Pecans:
- 3 cups peanut oil
- 2 cups pecan halves
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 cup sifted confectioners' sugar
- Cardamom Cream:
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon black cardamom seeds
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Cut each squash in half and discard the seeds. Brush cut sides with 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Arrange the squash cut side down on a rack placed in a baking tray and bake until tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Cool, scoop out the insides of the squash, and puree the flesh in a food processor. Reserve. (You should have about 4 cups of pureed squash).
In a medium stockpot, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter. Over low heat, sweat the onion. Do not allow it to brown. Add the pureed squash and cook over very low heat until heated through, stirring occasionally. Do not allow it to bubble up. Season with the salt, pepper, ginger, and cardamom.
Pour in the stock and bring to a boil, still over low heat, stirring often. Cook about 20 minutes.
In a small saucepan, heat the cream with the rosemary sprig. Remove the rosemary and pour the cream into the soup. Transfer to a blender or food processor and process, in batches, for 2 or 3 minutes. Adjust the seasoning, to taste.
To serve, ladle the soup into heated bowls. Place a tablespoon of cranberry relish in the center, top with a dollop of cardamom cream, then sprinkle with chopped pecans. Drizzle pumpkin seed oil over soup.
Note: If desired, bake small squash until tender, scoop out, and use as individual serving bowls.Cranberry Relish:
In a small saucepan, combine all the ingredients. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Continue to cook until the mixture is thick and the berries are glazed. Allow to cool. Transfer to a covered container and refrigerate until needed.
Yield: 1 1/3 cupsSpiced Caramelized Pecans:
In a deep-fryer or a deep pot, heat the oil to 350 degrees. (A deep-frying thermometer can be clipped to the side of the pan so that you can tell when the proper temperature has been reached).
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Add the pecans and boil for 2 minutes. Drain in a large strainer, shaking off all excess water. Sprinkle the salt and cayenne pepper over the nuts and then coat with the confectioners' sugar, a little at a time, allowing the sugar to melt into the pecans. Toss the nuts by shaking the strainer, adding a little more sugar each time, until all the sugar is used and all the nuts are coated. Do not use hands or a spoon to toss. The nuts should have a glaze of sugar.
Carefully add the nuts to the heated oil, keeping the oil at 350 degrees. Cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove with a slotted spoon to a baking tray to cool.
Yield: 2 cupsCardamom Cream:
In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup of heavy cream and the cardamom to a boil. Reduce until only 1/4 cup remains. Allow to cool. Reserve.
Whip the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Stir in the reserved mixture. Chill until ready to serve.
Yield: about 1/4 cup