Halloween is only a few days away so this seems like a good time to make pumpkin soup. Not just any pumpkin soup—this one is made with the Long Island Cheese Pumpkin, used here mainly for pies. But in France, potirons often are made into warming autumn soups. In autumn French markets will be filled with its many varieties – the Cinderella Rouge vif D’Etampes (honestly, add some mice and you have a carriage), Fairytale Musquee de Provence, and Galeux d’Eysines. The Cheese Pumpkin resembles the Fairytale, and hence our connection to France.
I found this recipe for Spiced Squash, Fennel, and Pear Soup in Dorrie Greenspan’s cookbook, Around My French Table, and having most of the ingredients on hand, decided to try it. The result was fabulous.
Several ingredients factor into the distinctive taste of this soup. Pears, rather than the usual apples, add a subtle fruitiness. Celery adds a nice vegetable-y counterpoint to the natural sweetness of the squash and pears. (I didn’t have fennel so added an extra stalk of celery; I would do the same again.) The spices—ginger, cumin, and nutmeg—are an unusual but striking combination and add understated taste notes on the tongue. And then there is the pumpkin, or butternut or Kabocha or other winter squash, because our Halloween friends are members of that larger family. The color and taste of the soup will vary depending on the variety you choose. When I first made this I had an acorn squash so that is what I used.
Being pressed for time I skipped a few steps. I roasted the squash and refrigerated it until I was able to make the soup. Instead of sautéing the vegetables I put all of the ingredients into the pot with the chicken stock at the same time, brought it to a boil, then simmered for 30 minutes until all of the veggies were soft. Did not use either of the citrus fruits, more out of laziness than anything else. Used an immersion blender, but if you want a velvety soup use a food processor or blender. The crème fraiche is a must, however, and thankfully it can be found in the U.S. now in a variety of stores.
The soup was gone by the time I remembered that I should have taken a picture, but fortunately other bloggers have captured its post-pot awesomeness. This one is very appealing.
Squash-Fennel-Pear Soup (or my version, Squash-Celery-Pear Soup) makes a lovely first course for a special occasion, but it’s also perfect for a weekday dinner, with salad and good bread. Thanks Dorrie!