Winter Squash Soup
French cooking exemplifies purity: the French chef prioritizes the unadulterated purity of the vegetable. The winter squash soup appetizer featured here foregrounds the rich flavor of its primary ingredient.
- Depending on the number of invited guests, use at least 1 butternut squash and, if desired, another winter squash such as acorn
- Enough hot stock or water to cover the vegetables in the pan
- About 1/4 onion per squash
- Ground pepper, preferably white
- Heavy whipping cream orcrème fraiche
- Include/omit toasted walnuts or toasted pine nuts as needed
- Creative origami garnish: rounds of scallion greens, slivers of squash, julienned onion lengths, sculpted radishes, puff pastry sticks, spears of grilled squash…
1. Peel squash and cut into pieces; chop onion. Smaller pieces will cook faster. Using more than one type of squash adds complexity to this soup.
2. On medium-low heat with the lid on and a touch of vegetable oil, slowly cook the squash and onion together. Season with a bit of salt and some ground pepper. The attentive chef will use white rather than black pepper to incorporate flavor without the suggestion of debris.
3. Sweat the vegetables: After about 10 minutes or when the vegetables become translucent, add enough stock or water to cover the vegetables. With the lid on, bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook until the vegetables soften completely. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a bit.
4. Adjust the liquids: if the vegetables swim too freely in the broth, remove some liquid or add the appropriate level of cornstarch to enhance thickness. No allergies? Toast walnuts or pine nuts and add to blender with the squash/onion mixture. Puree. Do be careful when pureeing hot liquids: blenders without vents sometimes blow their tops when processing hot materials.
5. Use a strainer as needed to achieve the smoothest texture with this soup. Serve and garnish. Be creative with what’s in your kitchen and have fun. Martini glass? Shot glass? Your call. Apply a dollop of mildly whipped cream or, better yet, crème fraiche. Using a knife, decorate the golden surface of the soup. Add garnish and serve.
“Cream” as in “Creamy”
Even without the addition of cream as a final decorative touch, this soup qualifies as a cream soup based on its consistency. Indeed, it is the creamy nature of a soup, not the presence of cream per se, that gains it entry into the “cream soup” category.
The essence of cream soup:
- Soften a vegetable (e.g., squash, mushroom, broccoli, carrot)
- Add stock
This article first appeared on colorandaroma.comby José Dahan with MzRAD photo: Jeff Van Kleeck