Wednesday, November 09, 2011

spiced squash, fennel, and pear soup - French Friday's w/ Dorie

Cheese Squash
After missing making the duck in time to post on the FFWD site, I made sure to get this one done early. Sunday turned out to be a perfect day for it. My daughter and I were going to go for a hike to search for a geocache, but she decided she's rather go out and play with her neighborhood friends. I took a look at the next "assignment" and couldn't believe that the squash Dorie recommends using just happened to be sitting on my front steps. What were the chances a Long Island Cheese Squash happened to be the heirloom squash I took from the CSA a few weeks back?  I took the squash, carved off the top (with a saw from pumpkin carving) and scraped out the seeds and "guts". I roasted the cleaned squash, thinking I'd use it as the bowl to serve the soup.

I still needed the pears and fennel so took a trip to the farm. Unfortunately they didn't have any fennel this late in the season, but I did get some cute little Bosc pears. I actually had put fennel fronds and stems in the freezer, from a bulb this summer. I figured the stems would be ok for this. So I followed the recipe, sauteing the onions, fennel, ginger, etc. The squash didn't roast up as I thought it would. As you can see from the picture, the skin of a cheese squash is no where near as thick as a pumpkin. But it made it fairly easy to scoop out the flesh and add it to the other vegetables.
roasted Cheese Squash
I also started throwing out the water/juice from the cavity, but then realized I should add it to the soup. I put in about a cup of the juice, along with chicken broth.

We toasted the seeds, tossed with some curry powder. They were tasty and seemed to go with the cumin in the soup. I was really surprised to see cumin in the list of ingredients and am not sure I liked it. The other problem I had with the soup is the flavor was so dependent on the sweetness of the pears, fennel and squash, if any one of these weren't perfect, the flavor wouldn't hold up. I really don't think the vegetables I had were strong enough to give enough flavor to the soup. Obviously having a fennel bulb would have made all the difference, I'm sure. It wasn't bad, and was actually enjoyable, but it was too mellow for my taste, even with the lemon and pumpkin seeds. I froze what was left and am going to serve it at Thanksgiving. What I think I may do is saute or roast more pears and fennel to mix in. What may be neat is to puree the pears & fennel and swirl it in before serving.

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