KABOCHA SQUASH & FENNEL SOUP
inspired by Sunday Suppers at Lucques by Suzanne Goin
3-4 pounds kabocha or butternut squash, 2-3 squashes
4 fennel bulbs, trimmed and sliced
6 T. extra virgin olive oil
2 cups of sliced onion
2 t. fennel seeds
1 T. thyme, sage or rosemary, chopped
1 cup dry white wine
8 cups of vegetable stock or water, more or less depending on desired thickness
1 t. cayenne pepper, optional
toasted pepitas or pumpkin seeds for garnish, optional
fresh herbs for garnish, optional
salt & pepper
to prepare squash: Cut squash in half and scoop out seeds. Place on a cookie sheet, covered with tinfoil, cut side up. Drizzle squash with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in a 400 degree oven for 35-40 minutes, until tender. Let cool slightly. Once cool enough to handle, peel squash and roughly chop in cubes. Reserve.
to make soup: Heat olive oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, fennel and fennel seeds. Season with salt and pepper and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for 10-15 minutes until vegetables are cooked and lightly browning. Add herbs and sauté for a couple of more minutes. Add white wine and bring to a boil. Cook for a couple of minutes, until wine has slightly reduced. Add roasted squash and vegetable stock or water. Stock should cover the vegetables by 2-3 inches. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes. Blend soup with an immersion blender until smooth, adding more water or stock, if necessary. Season with salt, pepper, cayenne and any other desired spices (e.g. ginger or cumin).
to serve: Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with toasted seeds or nuts and fresh herbs.
tips: Squash can be roasted 1-2 days in advance and refrigerated. Vegetables and herbs can be chopped 1-2 days in advance and refrigerated. Soup can be made 1-2 days in advance and refrigerated. Soup can be frozen 3 months in advance; thaw in refrigerator overnight, or on the countertop. This soup method can be used with any vegetable or bean (e.g. white beans, English peas, tomatoes & more); celery, onion, leeks and garlic can all be used as the aromatic base. This soup also makes a great hors d’oeuvres served in shot glasses or small mason jars.