Saturday, October 16, 2010

Pumpkin and Squash Soup

I always go through different phases when cooking. I will find something I like and then make a few different versions. I think it improves my abilities to work with new ingredients and helps me refine my palate. Here is my second version of a winter gourd soup, this time it is certainly not vegan, but could be made that way by following the substitutions listed in the ingredient list. This recipe makes about 12 servings.

Pumpkin-Squash Soup
You want equal parts for all three squash, or thereabout.
1 small pie pumpkin, halved and seeded
1 golden acorn squash, halved and seeded
1/2 of a small Calabaza squash, seeded (they tend to be bigger so I used 1/2)
2 teaspoons of pancetta, fine diced (optional)
2 oz vegetable oil
1 sweet yellow onion, chopped
1 cup of carrots, chopped
5 scallions, chopped
5 garlic cloves, chopped
1 jalepeno, seeded and chopped
1/2 stick of butter
1 banana, chopped
1 pear, skinned and chopped
1 apple, peeled and chopped
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons of black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh nutmeg
1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme
1 teaspoon fresh marjoram
4 cups of chicken stock (use veg stock for vegan)
1/2 cup apple juice
1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)

Garnish: Toasted bread croûtons, chopped scallions and plain yogurt

Halve and remove the seeds from the squash. Place face down on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour at 350 degrees, or until they are soft to the touch. Use a large spoon to scoop the flesh from the skins and set it aside in a large bowl. Start a large sauce pot on low and add the diced pancetta and let that melt for about ten minutes. Once the fat is rendered out, remove the cooked pieces and reserve them for later. Now add the oil and onions, carrots, scallions, garlic and jalapeño. Let that cook for ten minutes or until the vegetables become soft. Turn the heat to medium and add the butter. Once the butter melts add the banana, pear and apple and let that cook for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the pear and apple start to soften. Now add the reserved squash, pancetta, seasonings, chicken stock, apple juice and heavy cream. Stir that well and let that come to a boil. Quickly turn the heat to simmer and let it all cook together for about 15 minutes. Puree the soup in batches in a blender and return it to the sauce pot when finished. taste and adjust the seasonings. Garnish and serve.

The jalapeño adds a good spice to the soup, so if you don't like spicy go with a 1/4 of a jalapeño or omit it completely. This one was not as sweet as the butternut squash soup I made previously but was still very delicious. Soup making is really not that difficult and you can follow this format with any ingredients to make your own soup to your liking.

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