With the first rain of the season upon us, and my cold in full swing, Steve and I decided to stay in and make a gigantic pot of soup. And we had nearly everything for this spicy fennel and kabocha soup from Suzanne Goin in our kitchen, and what we didn’t have we were able to improvise. I’m posting her original recipe with notes in “( )” of the changes we made.
Recipe makes 6 generous servings.
2 pounds Kabocha squash (we used one whole kabocha)
2 medium bulbs of fennel
4 Tablespoons of EVOO
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter (we only had 2 T. so we used 2 T. EVOO as well)
2 cups sliced onion (we chopped ½ medium red onion and one full medium white onion)
1 Tablespoon Thyme leaves (gathered from our garden and supplemented by our spice cabinet)
2 chiles de arbol (we substituted 1 minced cowhorn pepper from our garden)
1 bay leaf
3/4 cup sherry
10 cups chicken stock (we used 2 32 oz. boxes of organic chicken broth instead)
1/4 cup crème fraîche (since the crème fraîche isn’t getting mixed into the soup we substituted sour cream)
candied pumpkin seeds
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds (we used ground cumin seeds and just toasted them for a couple minutes in the toaster oven)
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon honey
Pinches of cinnamon, paprika, and cayenne
Fresh ground sea salt
1. Preheat oven to 400 Fahrenheit
2. Candy your pumpkin seeds. First toast the ground cumin seed in the toaster oven for a couple minutes. Melt the butter in a small pan, add the cumin, add the pumpkin seeds, sugar, spices and sea salt, stirring constantly until they are golden brown. Let cool for a minute and stir in the honey. Arrange on a piece of parchment until ready to use.
3. Prep your squash by halving, seeding and peeling it (place squash cut side down and use a sharp knife). Cut your squash into 1 inch thick slices.
4. Prep your fennel by rinsing it well, removing tough stalks and base, halving lengthwise and cutting into ½ inch thick slices.
5. Arrange fennel and squash on large baking sheet, drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with fresh ground sea salt and pepper. Roast uncovered in oven for 35 minutes until tender and slightly golden.
6. Toast fennel seeds in a small pan over medium heat for a couple minutes, until slightly browned and they aroma becomes more pungent. The original calls for grinding your seeds in a mortar and pestle, we just threw them in a coffee grinder that we only use for spices and nuts….worked like a charm!
7. Heat your large soup pot on high heat for two minutes and add the butter. Once it begins to foam add your chopped onion, minced pepper (or chiles if you used them), fennel seeds, thyme, bay leaf and fresh ground pepper (we used our Simply Calphalon Nonstick 5-Quart Pot and worked beautifully).The original recipe called for chicken stock (which is unsalted), but since we used chicken broth (salted) we omitted the 1 teaspoon salt you would normally add at this point. Reduce heat to medium-high, and stir continually until onions are tender and translucent…about 10 minutes.
8. Add your fennel and squash to the mix. Turn the heat up high and add the sherry. Continue to stir and allow the sherry to reduce for a couple minutes. At this point you can add your chicken broth or stock, turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer for another 20 minutes or so.
9. According to Suzanne’s recipe you should separate the solids from the liquids, retaining both, and blend the soup in three batches, so a third of the solids with a 1/2 cup of the liquids. Make sure to remove the bay leaf. We did this her way, but next time we will just pour (or ladle) it into the food processor in batches, no need to separate. We ended up with the perfect amount of liquids to solids, so no leftover liquids like when you do it her way.
10. Combine the batches of soup and make any flavor adjustments. Pour into bowls and garnish with crème fraiche or sour cream and the candied pumpkin seeds.
I think this soup would also be awesome garnished with some crispy pancetta.
You could also easily make this a vegetarian, gluten free, dairy free soup by substituting EVOO for the butter, vegetable broth for the chicken stock and omitting the crème fraîche/sour cream. You could even make it vegan by substituting brown sugar for the honey on the pumpkin seeds.
We ate ours with toasted, sliced baguette spread with goat cheese.