- 2 pounds Kabocha squash or another winter squash (I used Kabocha and Pumpkin)
- 2 medium bulbs fennel
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 cups sliced onions
- 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
- 2 chiles de arbol (I just used ground Cayenne Pepper)
- 1 bay leaf
- 3/4 cup sherry
- 10 cups chicken or vegetable stock or water (I only used 8 cups of Chicken Stock)
- 3/4 cup creme fraiche
- Candied pumpkin seeds–recipe follows (I used Roasted Pumpkin Seeds with Kosher Salt)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 F.
Cut the squash in half lengthwise, and remove the seeds. Place the squash cut side down on a cutting board and use a sharp knife to remove the peel. Slice the squash into 1-inch thick wedges. Cut the fennel in half lengthwise and then into 1/4-inch-thick-wedges.
Toss the squash and fennel with the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and some freshly ground black pepper. Place the vegetables flat on a baking sheet and roast about 35 minutes, until tender and slightly caramelized.
Meanwhile, toast the fennel seeds in a small pan over medium heat 2 to 3 minutes, until the seeds release their aroma and are lightly browned. Pound them coarsely in a mortar.
Heat a Dutch oven or soup pot over high heat for 2 minutes. Add the butter, and when it foams, add the onions, fennel seeds, thyme, chiles, bay leaf, 1 teaspoon salt, and a good amount of freshly ground black pepper. Reduce the heat to medium-high, and cook about 10 minutes, stirring often, until the onions are soft, translucent and starting to color.
Add the squash and fennel, and stir to coat with the onions for a minute.
Turn the heat back up to high and pour in the sherry. Let it reduce for a minute or two, and then add the stock and 1 Tablespoon salt. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer 20 minutes.
Strain the soup in a colander set in a pot. Put a third of the solids into a blender with 1/2 cup of the broth. (You will need to puree the soup in batches.) Process at the lowest speed until the squash mixture is pureed. Add another 1/2 cup broth and then turn the speed up to high and pour in more liquid, a little at a time, until the soup has the consistency of heavy cream. Blend at least a minute on high speed, until the soup is completely smooth and very creamy. Transfer to a container, and repeat with the est of the ingredients. You may not need all the liquid. Taste for balance and seasoning. OR you can do what I did and use an Immersion Blender (makes things much easier!)…I reserved a bit of the liquid from the soup before I used the Immersion Blender in case I did not need all of the liquid. Depending on the consistency, you may find that you want to reserve some of the liquid as well. I did not end up adding the reserved liquid back to the soup.
Pour the soup into six bowls, spoon some creme fraiche in the center of each and scatter the candied pumpkin seeds over the top
To save time, I just used the Roasted Pumpkin Seeds I had made earlier that week with Canola Oil and Kosher Salt. However, if you’re interested, here is the recipe for the Candied Pumpkin Seeds.
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- Generous pinch each of ground cinnamon, paprika, and cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon honey
- Kosher salt
Toast the cumin seeds in a small pan over medium heat 2 to 3 minutes, until the seeds release their aroma and are lightly browned. Pound them coarsely in a mortar.
Melt the butter in the cumin pan over medium heat. Add the pumpkin seeds and sugar, then sprinkle the spices and a healthy pinch of salt over them.
Toss the pumpkin seeds to coat them well with the butter and cook a few minutes, until just after they begin to pop and color slightly.
Turn off the heat and wait 30 seconds. Add the honey, tossing well to coat the pumpkin seeds. Spread on a plate and let them cool.