Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Acorn Squash Soup

There are some dishes you make that are so special they become tradition and their taste becomes synonymous with family, friends, and good eating. Not to get sappy, but this acorn squash soup has become just that. Sometimes the simplest things are the best. The original recipe comes from family friend, Marion Hover, which she complied from a number of recipes. I emailed her for the recipe in college and have been making it ever since. It has now become a staple at our yearly Dia de los Muertos dinner. Nearly everyone has come to expect it and they're disappointed if I don't make it. I always make extra to have on hand for those wintry nights, when all you want to do is hunker down and be comforted by a delicious bowl of soup.

I love the use of curry powder in this soup. In a way, it makes acorn squash taste more like acorn squash but without overpowering the entire soup. Most people don't even know it's in there, but it adds a great flavor. The crème fraiche garnish makes for a lovely presentation and it's fun for the cook to test their drawing skills. I once attempted piping a skull onto the surface of the soup for Day of the Dead, but it came out looking more like a Salvador Dali painting gone awry. I've stuck to a simple swirl here, but feel free to get creative. If I remember correctly, Marion made this soup for my brother and sister-in-law's engagement dinner and piped hearts onto each bowl of soup. Have fun with it!

I always think this soup tastes better the following day. So if you're serving it for company, make it the day before and refrigerate overnight. Simply reheat on the stovetop before dinner. This is a fall and winter soup that is sure to please! A great option to serve before Thanksgiving dinner too. I'm so excited to share this recipe with everyone and hope you enjoy! 

Adapted from Marion Hover


For the soup:
4 acorn squash
2 tbsp. butter
2 yellow onions, chopped
2 tsp. garlic, minced
½ tsp. curry
½ tsp. ginger
½ tsp. nutmeg (fresh if you have it)
7 to 8 cups chicken or vegetable stock
½ cup half & half
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

For the crème fraiche garnish (optional):
1/2 cup crème fraiche
2 tbsp. half & half or milk
1 tsp. brown sugar
A dash of cinnamon

For the soup:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut squash in half and seed (save the seeds and toast them later). Drizzle a little olive oil on two foil-lined sheet pans. Place the squash cut-side down on the pans and cook for 40 to 50 min until skins have blistered and squash is soft to the touch. Cool and peel off outer skin. Roughly chop the squash and set aside.

In a large Dutch oven or stainless steel pot, melt the butter and saute the chopped onions over medium heat, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add curry, ginger, nutmeg, chopped squash, and chicken stock (or vegetable stock). Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Remove soup from heat and let cool slightly.

Puree the soup in a blender (or use a stick-blender). Pour through a fine mesh strainer back into the Dutch oven or large pot. Return the soup to a simmer, add half and half and season to taste with salt and pepper. If the soup appears too thick, thin it with a little more stock until you've reached the desired consistency. Serve immediately or make ahead and reheat.

For the crème fraiche garnish:
In a small bowl, whisk ingredients together until creamy. Spoon a dollop onto each serving of soup or place in a piping bag or small zip-top bag, snip the end, and pipe a design onto the surface of the soup. Keep refrigerated until ready to use. 

Yield: About 3 quarts

  • Feel free to substitute other winter squash for the acorn squash. Sometimes I like to use a combination of acorn and butternut etc. This soup is very versatile so feel free to play around a bit.
  • For a vegan alternative, substitute the half and half for coconut cream or coconut milk. 

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